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[Representational Image]Reuters

The Yogi Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh ordered a crackdown on illegal and mechanised slaughterhouses across the state soon after coming to power on March 19, forcing meat sellers across the state to go on an indefinite strike from Monday, March 27, to protest against the move.

Uttar Pradesh is home to several illegal slaughterhouses, some of which have already been shut down due to the crackdown, while over 50 people have reportedly been arrested. The announcement also invited a nationwide outcry with several sections of the society claiming that the government's move targeted a particular community.

Meat-sellers go on indefinite strike

Following the crackdown, meat sellers across the state launched an indefinite strike to protest against the blanket ban on illegal and mechanised slaughterhouses, which was a promise the BJP had made in its election manifesto prior to the elections that were held in February and March. Organisations said the crackdown has given rise to fear among traders and licensed slaughterhouses, which are also being targeted despite the party clearly stating that the crackdown was against illegal abattoirs and that the legal ones would not be "touched".

Crackdown has affected livelihood

Meat sellers also said the crackdown has led to loss of livelihood of thousands of people who are involved in this business. Fish sellers, too, have reportedly joined the strike due to which several non-vegetarian food items have been pulled off the menu.

According to media reports, meat exporters are also considering legal options since Adityanath's decision to ban mechanised slaughterhouses in the state is contradictory to the policy of the central government, which has granted 'industry' status to them.

Lucknow Bakra Gosht Vypar Mandal office bearer Mubeen Qureshi told reporters that the "meat sellers are piqued over the crackdown on slaughterhouses which has adversely hit the livelihood of lakhs of people." However, the crackdown has also garnered support from some sections of the society. The owner of a famous eatery said that he was in favour of closing down illegal and mechanised slaughterhouses in the state as it is alleged that several illegal slaughterhouses also indulged in slaughtering dogs.

"This is not a religious issue. In fact, it is directly linked to the health of people, who have the right to good quality of meat and fish," the owner said.

Impact on the industry and the state's economy:

The state is the highest producer of meat with a 19.1 per cent share. Almost 50 per cent of India's meat exports come from Uttar Pradesh. The crackdown would affect over 25 lakh people who are directly or indirectly associated with the meat industry.

According to traders, there is a severe shortage of all kinds of meat due to the crackdown, which has led to several eateries, including the famous Tunday and Rahim's, to shift to mutton and chicken dishes. There is a shortage of buffalo meat as well. Most customers prefer buffalo meat to the more expensive chicken and mutton.

According to estimates, the state exports meat worth Rs 26,685 crore per year. The All India Meat and Livestock Exporters' Association (AIMLEA) said the crackdown would result in a loss of at least Rs 11,350 crore of revenue in Uttar Pradesh. If the ban continues for five years, the state would suffer a loss of around Rs 56,000 crore in terms of revenue.

Zoo animals starve under new BJP govt in state

It is not just the traders and the meat sellers who are facing the consequences of the crackdown but also the carnivorous animals at the Kanpur Zoological Park, who have been put on a "forced fast" since the ban was announced due to lack of supply of meat. The four slaughterhouses of the Kanpur Municipal Corporation (KMC) have been shut down due to which the animals do not get their daily supply of meat. A senior officer at the zoo told the Hindustan Times that a male carnivorous animal needs around 12 kilograms (kgs) of meat everyday while a female one needs 10 kgs.

"The zoo requires 150 kgs of buffalo meat every day. The meat is provided by a contractor who supplied it on Tuesday but could not today. The pregnant ones are being given chicken but they are not interested. Many of them have not touched food since morning," the officer said.