With the introduction of bill in Maharashtra banning slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks, a major step has been taken to fulfill a long standing demand of majority of people in India. The demand was sensible from environment, health, and cultural aspects and the present decision is expected to promote social harmony and peace in the society.
The enactment of the law needed political will and commitment to the aspiration of the people. The decision is favorable to the agrarian sector. An ailing bullock or ox sells for about 10,000 to 14,000 and farmers almost always deny to sell it to slaughterhouses. They sell to middlemen who in turn sell them to slaughter houses. Changed lifestyle and modernity are forcing farmers to resort to selling of cows.
The cows are treated cruelly in both legal and illegal slaughter houses. Halal meat, the meat sanctioned by Islam, can be obtained by bleeding the animal to death when the animal is fully conscious. Modern methods of slaughtering includes stunning the animal before cutting. Routine practices in slaughter houses show that none of the methods are adopted as prescribed. Those who witness the slaughter can conclude that even the prescribed methods are very tortures to say the least. Animals are hung and sharp razors are used to cut them. In many occasions, about 40% are not stunned properly and the animals are fully conscious when they are killed. Most of the consumers of meat are completely unaware of the conditions of slaughter houses. From the time of procuring to the killing, the animals are treated like non-living beings for reducing the cost. During transportation, animals are cramped in small spaces of vehicles. They are placed in cramped unhygienic places till they are taken to slaughter houses. Animals express anxiety, fear and restlessness during these occasions.
As far back as 1961, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that a vegetarian diet could prevent 90-97% of heart diseases. There is also a strong link between consumption of meat and bowel cancer. The kidneys of the meat-eater has to work three times harder than the kidneys of the vegetarian, putting more pressure on that organ.
When people think they are eating one type of meat, it can actually be a different type of meat that is cheaper to produce and there are many instances in the past when such things have undetected by the consumers.
When meat is rejected by one retailer because of its sub-standard condition when delivered, the same is offered to another retailer, and another, until it is accepted. There, it is packed and sold to the public. The meat is often unlabeled and not identifiable as one particular type of meat. The meat packers often marinate rotten meat to disguise the smell.
In many cases, meat available in the market contains staph infection bacteria, including the hard-to-kill MRSA. Turkey products were most likely to harbor staph bacteria, followed by pork and chicken products. MRSA kills more people than AIDS. Beef burgers can contain bacteria from 1000 different cows.
Lazy employees leave hair, ear canal debris, and teeth in products. Chicken and ham are soaked in chlorine baths to remove odor, and red dye is added to beef to make it appear fresh when it is not.
Increasingly, slaughterhouses have adopted the process of mechanically tenderizing steaks and other high-quality cuts of beef. Doing so involves driving blades and needles into steak — which in turn, drive any bacteria living on the surface of a steak deep into the flesh. This is because all the antibiotics that are pumped into cattle, and other modern-day farming practices, lead to tough, chewy meat. When your meat is cooked, it has to be 75 degrees centigrade in the centre, otherwise all that bacteria that has been pushed in to the center of the meat is still alive. More than half of the 82 outbreaks linked to steak in the past ten years can be definitively linked to E. coli. Meat packaging does not tell you whether the meat has been mechanically tenderised or not. The majority of beef is more likely to harbor deadly E. coli germs. It’s natural for cows to eat grass, but not grains. Still, most cows today chomp down lots of grain to speed growth. This changes the natural chemistry in a cow’s gut, making it easier for potentially deadly E. coli O157:H7 strain to survive.
World Starvation is also connected to meat production. If the USA stopped feeding grain to cattle, Half a Billion people could be fed the excess grain – life saving food for nations such as Africa.
In Mumbai alone, there are about 900 licensed legal beef traders. The city consumes about 20,000 kilograms of beef every day. At Deonar (the slaughter house in Mumbai), about 500 bullocks and ox and about 30 to 40 buffaloes are legally slaughtered every day. Pune is the next big market with about 14,000 kg consumed daily. There are about 500 licensed shops selling beef in Pimpri, Chinchwad, Sholapur, Malegaon, Kolhapur and Sangli.
Although, about 10 lakh people are connected with the trade, the affected portion is just about 1.5% of the 60million workforce in the state. Further, these traders are not completely dependent on the beef and the law would not affect their entire business. Majority of those who are connected with the trade are minimally dependent on the beef trade. Some people, who are more dependent on the beef trade claim that the law would afftect about 70% of their business. Maharashtra’s beef traders have decided on seeking legal recourse following the ban on slaughter of bulls and bullocks.
Hindus have protested against cow slaughter and especially between 1975 and 1990, Gau Raksha Abhiyan and Jain community members have protested routinely at the gates of Deonar slaughter house on a daily basis. They protested for years peacefully and they never turned violent.
Sometimes, the majority with legitimate demands have lost their patience resulting in police complaints, and intercepting of transport vehicles carrying cattle by VHP the transport authorities. In recent years, protests have increased both in terms of magnitude and frequency. Earlier, areas like Dhulia, Malegaon and Solapur have seen frequent protests but safer areas like Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur, Nashik and Sangli are also seeing more protests. On January 2 this year, the protest in Paltan area of Sangli turned violent over 100 meat traders were attacked. The beef traders came to Mumbai and decided to strike work. On February 15, they decided to call off the strike after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured them of a “safe working environment.
Although the trade was legal all these years, traders complained harassment from non-governmental associations and general public. Alert officials under constant pressure from anti cattle slaughter social activists overseeing illegal cow slaughter constantly monitored transportation of the cattle. Gau Raksha Abhiyan president Milind Ekbote said that the activists only stop those engaging in illegal cow slaughter business. “We have caught several people while cows were being transported in their vehicles,” he said.