This Navratri, Yogi Adityanath is a man who suddenly has too much on his plate.
While Yogi, as usual, plans to have only fruits and peanuts during Navratri, the newly anointed chief minister of Uttar Pradesh may have bitten more than he can chew following the massive crackdown on "illegal" slaughterhouses — which has already entered its second week — and the protests triggered by that. Protesting against the clearout, meat sellers have gone on an indefinite strike .
But the Yogi looks calm and is, in fact, planning to throw a fruit party for BJP functionaries even as the slaughterhouses and meat shops bear a desolate look. For millions engaged in the meat business, it's a direct attack on their livelihood. As a result many of them are being forced to go hungry.
On March 28, cabinet minister Siddharth Nath Singh, who gave a patient hearing to the various associations of meat dealers and exporters, clarified that the actions are "only against illegal abattoirs". He also said that no orders have been issued to take any action against shops selling chicken, fish or eggs. But the meat sellers would reportedly continue their strike at least till the end of Navratri (April 5).
Does that bring the situation back to square one?
Well, it does.
The BJP had promised in its election manifesto — which they proudly proclaimed as the Sankalp Patra — that there would be a drive against illegal slaughterhouses. And hours after taking oath as the chief minister, Yogi Adityanath ordered the crackdown.
|Out of the 2,000 legal and illegal slaughterhouses, only 28 are believed to be functioning.|
Unconfirmed reports indicate that out of the 2,000 legal and illegal slaughterhouses, only 28 are functioning.
Many believe that licensing and legalities were given a silent burial in the previous regime because of which even those (slaughterhouses) owned by local municipal bodies had to be closed for want of required permission. Clearly, the orders of the National Green Tribunal as well as Supreme Court strictures were conveniently overlooked.
No attempts were made to renew the licences of hundreds of slaughterhouses or to even make them comply with the court and NGT guidelines. That rendered most of the slaughterhouses vulnerable and susceptible to the new regime. As a result, the eventual closure.
When asked by India Today TV, about the fate of those involved in the meat trade for generations now reduced to starvation, Sidharth Nath Singh blamed it on the previous regime and said that the government will extend any possible help to those indulging in legal activities, but will not promote "illegality in any form".
There, however, is the question of life and livelihood. Traditional butchers have been culling animals and selling their meat to earn a livelihood. The same set of butchers have been catering to the needs of the meat-eating population in the hinterland. Mechanised slaughterhouses with full certification include a miniscule percentage of the demand for meat, and the gap has been filled by the unorganised and unrecognised butchers who have been doing it for paltry earnings for generations.
A dearth in meat supply across Uttar Pradesh has been felt heavily in the past eight days. This may not spiral into an uncontrolled agitation during Navratri since a vast majority of the Hindu population in Uttar Pradesh would, in all likelihood, refrain from having meat and take to a fruit diet like Yogi.
But what after Navratri?
Hinduism has endorsed (animal) sacrificial practices since ancient times dating back to the Vedic age. One would draw semblance in "kurbani" by Muslims and "bali" by the Hindus. But the two communities have cherished and practised it despite all kinds of debates.
The non-vegetarians emphatically asserting that "Jivo Jivasya Bhojanam" (One living being eats another to To survive, loosely translated) is something that's enshrined in the ancient scriptures of the Hindus. The law of nature does endorse the theory.
But away from the theories and practices, there also lies the ugly reality of the present — the fact that over 25 lakh butchers and those employed in allied activities have been rendered unemployed, not to talk about the plight of the meat eaters forced to eat vegetarian food.
Even though the BJP government gave a patient hearing to the stakeholders, it has been "non-committal" so far. Obviously, the party can't budge from its pre-poll stand.
Going by the current situation, any solution to the stalemate seems far from sight.
What, however, looks clear is the fact that Navratri this year has brought a period of meat abstinence, even if forced, for all in Uttar Pradesh.