The Karnataka government’s letter making stunning mandatory may spark another row as slaughter after stunning the animals will not be considered halal.

Representative image of a slaughter house
news Controversy Sunday, April 03, 2022 - 17:06

In a move aimed at curtailing the practice of Halal slaughter, the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services Department in Karnataka has asked the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to direct all slaughterhouses and chicken shops in the city to ensure that animals are mandatorily stunned before they are slaughtered. Stunning is a process where an animal is rendered unconscious while being slaughtered, either by hitting on the head or by gas or electric shock. 

The department has also asked the civic body to check the stunning facility while issuing licences for slaughterhouses and chicken shops. The government directive comes even as Muslims prepare for the holy month of Ramzan.

Though such communication is said to be a routine affair, it has come amidst controversy around right-wing groups giving a call to boycott halal meat amidst Ugadi festivities. In this context, halal refers to a method of slaughter under Islam, where an animal's throat is slit, and the meat is used only after the blood has drained out of the body. The traditional Hindu way of preparing meat is the jhatka cut, where the animal is killed instantaneously by single strike of a sword or sickle, or the animal stunned and killed and then the meat is prepared. Now, the Karnataka government’s letter making stunning mandatory everywhere may spark another row as stunning the animals will not be considered halal.

In a letter dated April 1, the Deputy Director of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services in Bengaluru Urban district cited the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, 2001, and asked the Bengaluru civic body to ensure the stunning of animals before they are slaughtered for meat. Stating that the department has received complaints from the public that the rules are not being followed, the letter asked the BBMP to direct all slaughterhouses and chicken shops in the city to make sure that animals are stunned mandatorily and are unconscious before they are slaughtered.

Further, asking the civic body to check about the stunning facility while issuing licences for slaughterhouses and chicken shops, the department has asked the BBMP to report to the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Bengaluru Urban, about the action taken.

Recently, some right-wing groups had given a call to boycott halal meat, ahead of Varshadodaku, the day after Ugadi, when many communities in the state have a non-vegetarian feast. The development comes amid demand for a ban on halal meat.

Reacting to the development, Karnataka Congress President DK Shivakumar told people not to get scared about the circular being issued by the Animal Husbandry Department. "If anyone troubles you, give us a call, our workers will be sent to the spot," he said. "Don't be scared of handbills distributed by the RSS and BJP activists in this regard. This is our responsibility," Shivakumar said. "I am getting calls from farmers from all over the state. They are saying there is no one to buy their chicken, sheep or goat," he stated.

"Since last week, peace in the society has been disturbed with a political motive," Shivakumar said, referring to the ban on Muslim merchants in temples and religious fairs and the issue of halal meat. "I have seen human beings rendered unconscious before they undergo surgeries. But I am coming across the 'stunning' process for the first time. In this country, the food habits of people have developed for thousands of years. People should continue with what they are doing, especially our farmers and business community. Don't destroy Karnataka," he said. "Do not snatch away people's livelihood. Let all communities live unitedly," Shivakumar added.

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