Indian meat trade targeted, claims religious group

By Raghavendra Verma, in New Delhi

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Meat processing plants Animal rights India Beef

Indian meat trade targeted, claims religious group
The leaders of India’s 160-million plus Muslim community, which dominates the country’s meat trade, is complaining of persistent harassment by Hindu "hardliners".

Zafarul-Islam Khan, president of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), a Delhi-based religious organisation, told​ that on the pretext of saving cows, deemed sacred by Hindus, activists harass people working in buffalo abattoirs.

According to Khan, about 90% of India’s meat business – and a greater proportion of retail – is run by Muslims. The present situation, he said has made transporting cattle “a dangerous business”.

His comments follow a resolution passed by his organisation in December that said: “Abattoirs are being closed down, trucks transporting cattle are hijacked by [Hindu radical] thugs with police support, hurdles are placed in the face of opening of new abattoirs and meat shops.”

Even with a limited domestic consumption, buffalo meat is a big business in India. According to India’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, there are 88 million buffalos (58% of the world population); 3,600 slaughterhouses; and 24 meat processing plants, including 13 fully export-oriented units in the country. A recent report by the US Department of Agriculture said that India is to become the top beef exporter, beating Australia and Brazil.

However, according to Surendra Kumar Ranjan, director of Hind Agro, a Delhi-based meat processing and exporting company, the situation is not that bad and, sometimes, cattle traders and suppliers break animal welfare rules. “In a long-body truck, only 14 animals are allowed to be transported, but they even pack in 30,”​ he said, adding that when they are caught, the Hindu "hardliners" and animal rights activists such as PETA take advantage of the situation to target them.

Meanwhile, members of the Hindu Marwari and Jain community, known for their strict vegetarianism and love for animals, carry out their periodic protests in different cities demanding closure of abattoirs. The AIMMM has called upon the central and state governments to stop all illegal activities against the meat dealers. In a strongly worded resolution it said: “The AIMMM looks at these hurdles as a subtle economic war against a section of the community.”

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