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AISHWARYA ADHIKARI | 14 SEPTEMBER, 2017

Vigilantism Kills Small Scale Meat Business, Destitute Victims Share Their Stories

AISHWARYA ADHIKARI


NEW DELHIi: On September 12, Save Environment and Human Rights (SEHAR), a voluntary group of University Teachers, Lawyers, Students and Activists organised a Public Hearing for those who are engaged in the small scale meat business. The small meat sellers, tempo drivers, small dairy owners, all deposed before a jury.

The main purpose of this Public Hearing was to highlight the problems faced by these people in their daily lives due to the arbitrary close down of slaughter houses, attacks of the so called "gau rakshaks" and the unannounced ban on sale of raw meat or cooked meat dishes in dhabas and hotels that has rendered many of them destitute.

The Jury for the public hearing comprised of Justice A P Shah, eminent journalist Saba Naqvi and veteran CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali.

The unanticipated attack on livelihood could immediately be understood, once the people started narrating their stories to the Jury and all those who attended the public hearing. Victims from Alwar, Mewar, Loni as well as people from Delhi and Noida narrated their bone-chilling experience.

Zubair Alam, from Loni in his statment spoke of how he has lost his only means to livelihood, a biryani stall that he could not longer operate because of the sudden demand for licenses imposed by Yogi Adityanath as soon as he took over as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister. Alam said that most other vendors of other communities continue to operate, but he was victimised and harassed until he got off the road altogether.

On March 23, 2017, immediately after being elected as the Chief Minister (CM) of Uttar Pradesh (UP), Adityanath ordered for the complete ban on cattle smuggling as well as slaughterhouses without license. Though the order finds no instructions on legal-licensed business, it has been implemented on shopkeepers and individuals whose business has not been sentenced as ‘illegal’.


Breaking down while sharing his story at the meeting, Ali Navi Qureshi said “humein border pe bheejdo...hum wahi kaam karengey, kuch bhi kaam dedo.... lekin humae bacche palna chahiye (send us to the border...we will work there, give us any work....but let us raise our children)”. Qureshi was a tempo driver who would ferry meat to shopkeepers, from the slaughterhouses. The helpless father further narrated how his children had to stop attending school ever since the ban was implemented. Being in the same business for the last 15 years, he said he was now working several odd jobs but has barely been able to earn a sustainable income..

The Citizen’s documentation of his statement: https://www.facebook.com/thecitizen.in/videos/666314640225976/

Jaggu Sonkar, spoke of how the police outrightly denied issuing a No Objection Certificate (NOC) on the pretext of him being a resident of a slum in Sector 18, Noida. Certain regulations have been cited by the Food Ministry to the slaughter houses and meat shops in order to function. Sonkar said that even after the regulations have been followed, none of the shopkeepers have been allowed to run their business.

Frustrated of being out of a job for the last six months, Immanuddin said ‘Mein akela Musalman ye kaam nahi kar raha hu. Nahi to wo humein Goli maar de (I am not the lone Muslim man to be in this business. Orelse shoot me).

The jury looked through each of the cases and suggested re redressal and action. Justice Shah stated ‘all of you should work as a collective to fight this attack at present. After looking at all the cases, I feel none of you are aware of your rights accorded to you by the Constitution of India. All of you have to come together to fight this onslaught’.

Saba Naqvi said, “We have not been able to talk in details about the tanneries that have been shut down in the region, but even that has a huge effect on the livelihood of workers who are in the business for several years”.

“I am from Kanpur. It is only now that the impact of the attack has been understood. It was thought that this is a struggle that comprises of only a handful of people. The few men who sell meat and the ones who consume, this was solely attributed as their problem. But now, in the past 2 – 3 months, there has been a change in the outlook. It is important that we understand that this is the ploy of the government and the executive that function together. It is a huge business. The people, who think that BJP supporters engage in cow worship, are absolutely wrong” said Subhashini Ali. “Ye kamaai ka ek bohot bara dhanda ban gaya hain (this has become a big money making business)”, she added.

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