The Kozhikode Corporation is set to intensify their crackdown on unauthorised meat shops in the city in the coming days. However, a recent guideline issued by the corporation that meat stalls should shut shop after 2 pm has now courted a controversy, and is facing opposition from the Muslim League.
Members of IUML's Youth Wing proceeded to gherao Idiyangara health inspector Rajeev on Monday, against what they called as an "unofficial" ban on beef.
According to reports, the members gherraoed the official for more than 3 hours and agreed to disperse only after the health officer intervened.
When TNM spoke to Dr Gopakumar Ramachandran, Health Officer, he said that the corporation will bring out a written order on Wednesday, to bring about some clarity on the issue.
"We haven't yet issued an order on the matter, but had orally asked some meat sellers to not sell meat after 2 pm," he said.
Dr Gopakumar pointed out that while the corporation is being accused of "banning" beef, their instruction is applicable to those meat shops that lack freezers.
"The order is not that they should shut shop at 2 pm, but that they cannot sell unrefrigerated meat after 8 hours from butchering the animal. At the time of applying for licence, the owners have themselves certified that the meat (beef or mutton) is generally butchered at 4 am. 2 pm is not the curfew here, but the 8 hour is. They can operate after 2 pm also for 8 hours. And for those stalls that have proper freezer facilities, they can sell the meat at any time of the day," Dr Gopakumar said.
According to him, there are 66 licensed meat shops in the corporation limit and an additional 40 shops that operate without licence, according to latest estimates. Of the authorised ones, only 3 have freezer facility, which makes the order applicable to majority of the stalls.
He accused the political group of trying to "communalise" the issue, an attempt that began after the Corporation shut down an illegal meat shop in Idiyangara in the last week of April.
"There is a larger discussion on beef ban in the country. While ignoring the reasoning behind our guideline, these IUML workers have manipulated it to make others believe that we are targeting beef stalls. This is despite us repeatedly clarifying our stance in the council meetings in the past few weeks," Dr Gopakumar argued.
While all the 66 licensed meat stalls were granted permission to only sell meat and not butcher it, corporation officials say that most of the stalls violate this rule.
"Permission to only sell meat means that there will not be any waste that is generated out of the meat stalls. But we are increasingly receiving complaints that several meat stalls dispose off their waste on the road. They are violating the law and we have decided to be stringent on our actions," Dr Gopakumar said.
While meat sellers' association has demanded that more slaughter houses be opened, they have not opposed the Corporation's new guideline, the official points out.
"A consistent demand of the meat sellers' owners association has been that more number of slaughter houses should be opened in the district. Other than that, it is the political body that is manipulating the issue," he added.