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Meat ban may cast shadow over Eid-ul-Azha festivities

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New Delhi: With hundreds of families across the country preparing Eid-ul-Azha in the last week of September, the ban on sale of meat, including beef, has come as a huge setback for the traders who were expecting a good business during the festive season.

credit: www.thanhniennews.com
credit: www.thanhniennews.com

Akbar Qureshi, a meat trader in the Mankhurd area of Mumbai, is a worried man since the ban on beef came into force in Maharashtra in March this year under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995. Since then, he has been able to sell very little buffalo meat and is in danger of running out of customers.

“People don’t eat buffalo meat that much. I would earlier sell some 100 kilograms of beef daily, but now I hardly sell 40 kilograms of buffalo meat,” he said.

Akbar is just one among hundreds of traders, dealers and suppliers whose business has been severely affected by the beef ban in the state.

While Maharashtra and Haryana had banned beef earlier, many other states including Gujarat and Chhattisgarh and cities like Mumbai and its suburbs have recently introduced temporary bans on sale and possession of meat for varying number of days in respect of ‘Paryushana’, a Jain fasting season.

The ban on beef comes even as India has emerged as the world’s top exporter of beef since last year. As per data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in April this year, India has doubled its beef export from 1.26 million tonnes in 2011-12 to 2.40 million tonnes in 2014-15.

Beef ban means no exports either. Anwar Khan owns Al-Saba exports, a meat exporting company in Mumbai. He is facing huge losses.

“My monthly turnover was around Rs. 2.5 crore. But now I have lost everything and had to fire over 100 employees,” said Khan. “We are running short of buffaloes here, due to which it is impossible to do business,” he added.

Jammu and Kashmir became the latest addition to this list when the state High Court directed the authorities on September 10 to strictly enforce a 150-year-old erstwhile Dogra-rule-era provision of ban on sale and distribution of beef in the state.

Shabir Ahmad, along with his family, has domesticated a bullock to sacrifice this Eid. He is worried about being able to do that due to the ban.

“I would graze the bullock for hours after my day work and would give fodder to keep him in good health,” Shabir said.

Beef is particularly useful since it is cheap and hence bull or bullocks are preferred by many rural families over sheep or goat for the animal sacrifice during the Eid-ul-Azha. Moreover, in religious convention, while a goat or sheep qualifies a single person for the sacrificial obligations, a bovine animal qualifies seven people.

“I can’t afford a separate sheep or goat individually for every family member,” Ahmad added.

Given the religious implications of the ban, the decision has invited harsh criticism from not only the ordinary Kashmiris but also religious bodies. Jamaat-e-Islami, one of the largest such bodies in the Valley, has termed the decision as totally ‘unacceptable’.

G.M. Bhat, Ameer of the Jamaat, said, “It is absolutely not possible to convince the Muslim community to go against their own religion; so we oppose it.”

To protest against the ban, the Valley also observed a two-day strike on the call given by the Hurriyat led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani. He termed the court’s decision as interference in religious affairs.

Geelani said, “If India boasts of being a secular country, then everyone has a right to practice one’s religion. However, this controversial decision has taken away the freedom of the Muslims only.”

Meanwhile, meat suppliers in the region are now worried about losing their business as the festival season approaches.

Manzoor Ahmad, Anantnag-based supplier, had sold thousands of animals on Eid last year. This year he is looking at a gloomy business scenario.

“Last year, I supplied many animals before the Eid-ul-Azha. If this ban remains, dealers and suppliers will have to face huge business losses,” said Ahmad.

Cow is a revered animal for many in the Hindu community, and therefore its slaughter is considered unacceptable by them. Prohibition of cow slaughter is mentioned as one of the Directive Principles of State Policy under Article 48 of the Indian Constitution. The issue, though, has remained largely dormant till recently.

However, recent moves by the BJP-ruled states like Maharashtra and Haryana to cover all bovine animals in the anti-slaughter law and steps by several others to impose temporary meat bans are seen as powerful indicators of the growing influence of the right-wing Hindu organisations since the Narendra Modi government assumed power last year.

(Aijaz Nazir, IANS)

Next Story

Story Of Pakistani Immigrant Who Came To U.S. Helps Feed The Homeless

“I have a deep interest in social justice, Catholic social teaching … and so to be part of something bigger than myself, my son and I chose to come to lunch here today to support and be a small part of a great thing."

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Sakina Halal Grill serves a hot luncheon buffet to paying as well as non-paying guests. (J.Taboh) VOA

When Pakistani immigrant Kazi Mannan came to the U.S. in 1996 as an impoverished young adult, he could only dream about success. He worked long hours in a series of tough jobs, saved money and learned everything he could about working and living in America.

His hard work paid off. After more than 20 years, he’s now a successful entrepreneur and owner of a popular Pakistani-Indian restaurant just a few blocks from the White House.

But what’s most remarkable about his story is what he’s doing in his restaurant every day.

Kazi Mannan speaks with two of his regular homeless guests at his restaurant, which welcomes paying and non-paying customers. (J. Taboh/VOA)
Kazi Mannan speaks with two of his regular homeless guests at his restaurant, which welcomes paying and non-paying customers. (J. Taboh) . VOA

Mannan offers free meals to the homeless and anyone else in need.

Paying it forward

He says it’s his way of heeding the principles of his Muslim faith.

“I know God is happy with me, what I do, because I do it with my pure heart, with my pure intention, to uplift others without seeking any reward, any recognition,” he says. “I don’t need any awards, I don’t need any money. I just want to please Him.”

Mannan helps the needy he says, because growing up poor in Pakistan, he knows what it’s like to be hungry.

“I have nine siblings and [we didn’t have] much to eat … when you are poor and you [don’t] have things that other people have, when you get it, you want to appreciate, you want to share with others,” he said.

His desire to share deepened as he worked as a limousine driver in the nation’s capital. He saw homeless people on the street, day and night, in all kinds of weather — looking for food in trash cans.

The experience had an impact.

“I don’t want to see another human being going through the poverty that I went through. I don’t want to see another human being going through the hunger that I went through. I want them to have that feeling that they were being accepted, so they can come and sit here and eat with respect,” he says.

Just like family

His message is simple. Come to Sakina Halal Grill, which is named after his late mother, ask for food, use the restroom, and sit for as long as you want.

“We will love you and respect you the same way we respect a paying guest. We will treat you like family,” he said.

Members of the homeless community are welcome at Sakina Halal Grill restaurant anytime for a free meal. (J. Taboh/VOA)
Members of the homeless community are welcome at Sakina Halal Grill restaurant anytime for a free meal. (J. Taboh). VOA

Marchellor Lesueur, who is homeless, has been coming to the restaurant every day for the past eight months.

“I think that he’s a saint. He’s a beautiful man,” he says about Mannan. “My stomach was growling, I was looking for a blessing, then he popped up, gave me a card and invited me to a restaurant for lunch. And I was so overwhelmed and happy I couldn’t wait to get here, and ever since then I’ve been coming.”

Hegehiah Griakley is also a regular. He was finishing up a generous portion of rice and chicken, which he described as two meals in one.

“This is more than lunch,” he said. “They give you enough to feed you for the rest of the day I think. The food is great, the people are nice. I wouldn’t mind working here!”

Griakley says he once asked Mannan what he could give him in return for the free food. “Because most people expect you to give back.”

“But he said ‘no, no, no, no, no!’ He just wanted me to have a good meal,” he recalls. “I couldn’t believe that. It was so nice. I loved it.”

Compassionate immigrant

Mannan estimates that he’s provided more than 80,000 free meals since the restaurant opened in 2013.

And when he’s not feeding the needy in his restaurant, Mannan delivers meals to local shelters and churches, and organizes food and clothing drives at nearby parks.

Kazi Mannan distributes food to the needy at a local food and coat drive -- one of many he organizes every year. (K.Mannan)
Kazi Mannan distributes food to the needy at a local food and coat drive — one of many he organizes every year. (K.Mannan). VOA

“Some people tell me ‘homeless people are using drugs and you’re feeding them; that’s bad.’” To which he responds, “For you, it’s bad, for me, it’s joy. … I see a person who’s fallen to the ground. Whatever problem they went through to become homeless, it’s not my job to judge — my job is to give them respect and love.”

His paying customers are still his main business. Many of them contribute towards the free meals… and support his cause.

First time customer Geralyn Nathe-Evans was visiting from Minnesota when she read about Mannan’s mission in an article.

“I have a deep interest in social justice, Catholic social teaching … and so to be part of something bigger than myself, my son and I chose to come to lunch here today to support and be a small part of a great thing,” she said.

Mannan uses food as a way to help his fellow man, in practice of his faith. He urges others to do the same with their talents.

“If you’re a medical doctor, can you love him through your practice? If you are a lawyer, can you love him through your practice? Be kind and be compassionate to your client?” he asks.

In doing so, he believes “we will all prosper and flourish” as a society.

Also Read: Apple Watch Can Detect And Notify Users Irregular Heart Rhythms

Meantime, he says he will continue to nourish both body and soul of all who walk through the door of his restaurant.

“Just uplifting others is a joy for me. It doesn’t matter [what] color, religion you belong to. We are all human. I am focusing on humanity. I’m bringing humanity together and this is my mission.” (VOA)