Uttar Pradesh withdraws temporary ban on meat sales

LUCKNOW - The Uttar Pradesh government Tuesday hastily withdrew an order banning the sale of meat for nine days — which would have coincided with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — saying it had misinterpreted a 17-month-old Supreme Court order.

Realisation dawned on the Mayawati government after a hue and cry was raised by the UP Meat Sellers Association, which threatened to stage demonstrations and roadblocks to protest the order. Prominent Islamic clerics had also taken serious affront of the ban in view of Ramadan from Aug 22.

“We issued the ban order Monday thinking that the apex court’s order was binding on the entire country. However, on further inquiry, we found that the order was specific for Gujarat and Rajasthan, so we decided to withdraw the order today,” Harsharan Das, the state principal secretary (animal husbandry), told IANS Tuesday.

Sources claimed that the order was pushed by Animal Husbandry Minister Awadh Pal Singh Yadav after securing Chief Minister Mayawati’s nod.

Policemen had already got down to enforcing the order, which was most visible in the state capital where non-vegetarian joints were shut down in certain areas Monday night and slaughter houses and meat shops were not allowed to open Tuesday morning.

Das was however at loss to explain why the state government had suddenly decided to enforce a court order 17 months after it was issued. He was also unable to say why he did not initially realise that the order was not applicable to his state.

The Supreme Court order had come March 14, 2008, against a Gujarat High Court order, staying a ban on sale of meat ordered by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.

The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation had acted on a plea made by Hinsa Virodhak Sangh, an NGO propagating a ban on animal slaughter and the sale of meat during ‘Paryushan Parva’, a Jain festival.

According to insiders in the Uttar Pradesh government, it was the overzealous approach of the animal husbandry minister that led to the faux pas in the state. Officials did not even care to check the date of the Jain festival, which commences from Aug 21, coinciding with the commencement of Ramadan.

“There was no way that we could accept such an order,” said Maulana Khalid Rasheed, Lucknow’s Naib Imam and head of the citys oldest Islamic seminary Firangi Mahal.

“After all, this would not only affect the livelihood of those involved in the business of selling meat and non-vegetarian food but also affect the lives of all Muslims during the forthcoming month of Ramadan,” he added.

“It is in good time that the government realised its mistake and has withdrawn the order, but still it is important that an inquiry be ordered to get to the root of such an order that could have unnecessarily posed a threat to the social and communal order in the state.”

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