UP: Meat chopped off menu as Lucknow sellers on strike

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IN A move that will further hurt supply of non-vegetarian food in the Uttar Pradesh capital, most chicken and mutton sellers here have decided to shut shops to protest against the state government’s crackdown on slaughterhouses and meat shops running without licence. While thousands of people involved in the business of buffalo meat and mutton have become temporarily jobless, as there are no licenced slaughterhouses in the city, their associations are blaming the Lucknow Municipal Corporation (LMC) for the impasse. They say the civic body is neither issuing new licences nor is providing them alternative place for slaughterhouse. All three slaughterhouses run by LMC have been closed.

On Saturday, the associations of meat sellers in Lucknow announced that they will close their outlets for an indefinite period following the action on slaughterhouses, which has left most establishments involved in trade of buffalo meat and mutton closed for the last four days. Many non-vegetarian restaurants, which had stopped supplying food items made of mutton and buffalo meat, are now bracing for near-shutdown as supply of chicken is also likely to get hit. Lucknow’s famous Tunday and Rahim’s, who had shifted to mutton and chicken dishes after buffalo meat became scarce, also reported very few customers through the week.

In an appeal to meat-sellers, state BJP leader Mazhar Abbas said that only illegal shops and slaughterhouses will face government action, and the genuine ones do not need to worry, according to a PTI report. But Rizwan Siddiqui, a member of Lucknow Murga Mandi Samiti, an association of chicken sellers, said, “In most cases, chicken and mutton are sold from the same shops. Chicken shops do not require any separate licence or slaughterhouse, police officials are forcing mutton shops to down shutters, thereby inadvertently stopping these shopkeepers from selling chicken as well,” Siddiqui said, “We don’t want our shops to get sealed by authorities, so we have decided to shut them. If sealed, it would take months to get them opened again. By closing them, we can at least start some other business there.”

Mohammad Mustakeem, who sells chicken at a market called as ‘Ande Ki Chowki’ in Lucknow, said, “The municipal corporation is not issuing new licences. They are also not renewing our licences. How are we supposed to sustain? We have decided to close our shops for an indefinite period…until the government understands our plight,”