The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) on Monday staged an agitation at Dadar to protest the closure of meat shops ordered by the state government and municipalities in deference to the Jain community observing Paryushan, a period of abstinence.
Monday was the first of the two-day ban when all mutton and chicken shops in the city were to remain closed. The shops will be closed for business once again on September 5.
MNS workers, meanwhile, protested the closure by asking mutton shops in Dadar not to down shutters. The activists were later detained by police.
“They can observe their religion, but why should they force other people to abstain from eating meat? We are against this sort of behaviour and have asked meat shops in our area to remain open,” said MNS corporator Sandeep Deshpande.
The ban on sale of meat during ‘Paryushan’ has been in force since 1964, when the BMC passed a resolution directing a two-day prohibition on sale of meat, in response to demands by Jains, a powerful community with stakes in business and industry in Mumbai.
The ban covers mutton and chicken, and excludes fish and eggs. It also extends to private businesses selling raw meat.
Members of the Jain community have been demanding that the days of closure be extended to all eight days of Paryushan.
The MNS, which has been the most vocal against such a demand, claimed that the move is an attempt to change the socio-cultural dynamics of Mumbai.
MNS president Raj Thackeray on Sunday criticised the move by members of the Jain community seeking closure of abattoirs during Paryushan.
He said if abattoirs are not shut even during the Hindu month of fasting, Shravan, why should they be shut for Paryushan.
“I have been saying this since 2008. They are constructing Jain Mandirs in housing societies, not allowing other communities to buy properties. This is a way of creating a vote bank. They want to reduce the number of Marathi-speaking people and also the number of Marathi elected representatives,” Thackeray said.
With MNS getting vocal, the Shiv Sena too decided to jump into the fray.
Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik threatened that if the Jain community lobbied and insisted on closure of abattoirs for more than two days, the Sena would agitate to strike down the two-day ban as well.
“We respect your religion. People should respect us as well. If people try to lobby with political forces to increase days of the ban, I promise that the Sena will start an agitation to ensure that the two-day ban presently imposed should also be struck down,” Shiv Sena legislator Sarnaik said.
Meanwhile, as parties fought over mutton and poultry, there was another agitation demanding the right of passengers to carry fish on Metro lines. The incident happened after wardens along the Versova-Ghatkopar Metro Rail line stopped a passenger carrying fish from boarding a Metro train. Soon after the incident, MNS activists turned out in large numbers at Versova to protest.
Officials of the Metro clarified that the Metro Act does not allow transportation of raw and uncooked meat in closed door air-conditioned environment.
“Raw and uncooked meat is prohibited inside Metro to avoid any inconvenience to fellow passengers in closed door air-conditioned environment. The law is prevalent and followed across all the metros in the country including DMRC, as per Metro Act,” a spokesperson for Mumbai Metro One said.