New Delhi: Alleging that the crackdown on meat sellers by the newly formed Yogi Adityanath government is intended at targeting Muslims, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen Chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Monday demanded time for regularisation of illegal slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh.
"If black money hoarders can get time and relaxation to declare their money and regularise it, why can't the meat sellers and slaughterhouses be given time for regularisation?" Asaduddion Owaisi asked.
"It means the state government is targeting a particular community", he alleged.
Owaisi also questioned the government's claim that only illegal slaughterhouses are being sealed.
"There are reports that those having licenses are also being harassed", he said.
Stating that India's buffalo meat exports are valued at Rs 26,000 crore and around half of the exporting units are based in Uttar Pradesh Owaisi warned the government of negative consequences of its actions.
"Such reckless step by the government will result in economic disruption. Does the government want to stop these exports?
"About 10 lakh people who are associated with the trade will be rendered unemployed by this step," Owaisi said.
Speaking to reporters outside Parliament, the Hyderabad MP also slammed the erstwhile Samajwadi Party (SP) for failing to provide licenses to meat sellers.
"It is the fault of the erstwhile Akhilesh government that did not regularise the slaughterhouses," Owaisi said.
Meanwhile, the indefinite strike called by the meat sellers in Uttar Pradsh entered its second day on Tuesday.
"We are on strike and all the meat shops (mutton) were closed today. There is no question of the strike being called off anytime soon. It will go on indefinitely," Mubin Qureshi, an office bearer of the Mandal, said.
"The meat sellers are worried over the crackdown on slaughter houses, which has adversely hit the livelihood of lakhs of people," he said.
In eastern UP, shortage of meat, especially mutton, was reported from various places.
In Ballia, people experienced shortage of chicken and fish as well. However, licenced shops were allowed to sell meat in Allahabad and Bahraich. Sale of fish and eggs was normal.
Jhansi witnessed non-availability of mutton. Even chicken and fish connoisseurs could get these items only at a few outlets. A number of shops selling mutton remained closed throughout the day.
In Agra, the stock of the non-veg raw food items declined rapidly during the day. No sale of mutton has been reported, while people were purchasing fish and eggs.
Former Meerut Mayor and Lok Sabha MP from 2004 to 2009 Haji Shahid Akhlaq said that the government order against "illegal abattoirs" in the state has led to unwanted collateral damage.
Akhlaq, who is also the chairman and MD of Al-Saqib Meat Exporters, said this was caused by overzealous officials eager to please the ruling party.
“I have been on both sides of the table. I am one of the largest meat exporters in the region and I have also been in-charge of the civic body as Mayor. The problem is that officials don’t even understand the difference between a slaughterhouse and other meat-related businesses. I own one integrated slaughterhouse and three meat processing plants.
Imran Qureshi, son of veteran BSP leader Yaqub Qureshi and the Managing Director of Al-Faheem Meat Exports, said the worst of the impact had been on small-scale meat sellers.
“For many people, this is their only source of income. The BJP came to power on the promise of ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikaas’ (Development for all). How can they condone a move that causes such large scale unemployment? Legal abattoirs employ lakhs across the state.
"My company owns one integrated slaughterhouse in Meerut. That alone employs 800 people directly and over 1,500 people, including contractors and transporters, depend on us for work", he said.