Meat sellers, especially mutton vendors, today kept their shops closed on the first day of their indefinite strike against the statewide crackdown on illegal and mechanised slaughter houses. Reports from several districts said goat meat was not easily available, even as chicken was being sold in few shops. In Lucknow, most of the shops selling mutton downed their shutters. They, however, sold chicken, eggs and fish after UP Health Minister Siddhartha Nath Singh clarified that action was being taken only against the illegal abattoirs. “We are acting only against illegal abattoirs. Licenced slaughter houses are requested to stick to the norms,” he told reporters here, while making it clear that no orders have been issued to take any action against any shop selling chicken, fish or eggs.
“The licenced slaughter houses should comply with the norms mentioned in the licence. No orders have been issued to take any action against any shop selling chicken, fish or eggs. They need not to fear,” he clarified. He directed the officials that they should not act in over-enthusiasm nor should they overstep their jurisdiction.
When contacted, Lucknow Municipal Corporation Chief Veterinary Officer A K Rao said, “Within the municipal limits, there are 330 meat shops.”
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A rough estimate suggests that there could be around 5,000 meat shops in the capital operating from shanties and huts. The China Gate area near Lucknow Press Club, which houses a dozen shops selling non-vegetarian items, wore a deserted look as they were not able to serve food as per their menu. The Akbari Gate locality of Old Lucknow area saw a few shops opening to sell their remaining stock, while many others decided not to open.
The Lucknow Bakra Gosht Vypar Mandal intensified its strike, threatening that there was no question of calling it off. “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.