London: Members of the Sikh community in the northern British city of Bradford have come out against a halal meat plant being planned at a site next to a prominent gurdwara.
The city's leading meat retailer Pakeezah is planning to convert the site on Percival Street, once a car repair workshop, into a modern wholesale meat plant.
But since the site is close to the Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara building, local Sikhs are fiercely opposing the plant saying that meat odour would waft into the religious building, The Telegraph and Argus reported.
"Many of our people are strict vegetarians and the meat processing unit being so near to the temple is disrespectful and insensitive," Kuldip Bharj, secretary of the Board of Bradford Gurdwaras, was quoted as saying.
She, however, clarified that although Sikhs do not eat halal meat, they do not condemn it as repugnant because "we do respect other religions".
"It is really that the smell of meat is very offensive for people who don't eat it," Bharj said.
She also said that there were fears that beef might be processed at the plant.
"The cow is viewed as a sacred animal and beef is prohibited in Sikhism as it is in Hinduism," she said.
The proposal for the plant is being recommended for approval at an area planning panel meeting Aug 13.
"A butchery plant should be on an industrial estate rather than next to a place of worship and community centre where people will be exposed to the disgraceful smell and noise," the gurdwara's president Kuldeep Duley was cited as writing in a letter to local planning officer Mohammed Yousef.
However, Pakeezah director Tariq Haq has said that he would do nothing that might offend the Sikh community.
"We will never do anything that might offend our neighbours and many of our customers are Sikhs," he said.
"After it was wrongly said initially that there would be an abattoir, we went to the temple and explained the details."
He asserted that in 40 years, his firm had never bought a beef carcass and "our business is only in chicken, mutton and lamb".
"Also, this will just be a butchery like the one we already operate just a few feet away and have done for 20 years," he said.
The Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara in Bradford was opened in 1972 and is one of the largest gurdwaras in northern England.