The BMC has agreed to impose a four-day ban on the sale of meat in Mumbai. No animals will be slaughtered across abattoirs and meat markets will remain shut on September 10, 13, 17 and 18. However, restaurants are allowed to serve meat. The Jain community observes a fast for eight days, Paryushan, which will be observed from September 10 to 17 this year, and hence the meat ban.
Certain senior BJP legislators met civic chief Ajoy Mehta, demanding the ban. This evoked protests from Shiv Sena and other parties, arguing that neither the civic body nor a community had the right to decide what others eat. Naturally, the ban has created a huge controversy and has pitted those supporting it against the many who oppose it. Leaving aside the political colour, with the opposition party quite rightly — though in this regard — accusing the BJP of appeasing a certain community, the ban not only sets a bad but also a dangerous precedent in a city known for its diversity and cosmopolitanism.
Appeasing a particular community would mean leaving the door open for others to make all kinds of demands on their respective festive days or special occasions. It would then be difficult for the ruling party to explain why, on certain days, an appeal by one community is acceded to while appeals by other aren’t even considered. There is also the fact that this is a democracy and kowtowing to a community with financial power is certainly not on. The world’s largest democracy should be ashamed of telling the citizens of its commercial capital what they can eat and what they can’t. It also proves that certain people or communities are more equal than others, that money talks and when it does, it shouts to sweep others into silence or murmurs.
Mumbai is getting divided over something like what food to eat, as it is, certain housing societies do dictate what people should eat and the veg/non-veg divide is deepening. And this ban will only aggravate it. It is time to rethink this ban and in fact, revoke it. One man’s meat cannot become the poison that deepens the schisms in a city.