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SPECIAL REPORT: In Election year, law to stop cow slaughter in Gujarat likely to be implemented

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By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani
  
Ahmedabad: This is a eclection year in Gujarat and Chief Minister Narendra Modi wants to register a thumping and record break victory by securing more than 140 seats out of 182 seats of the state assembly. For this purpose, it is well on cards that the sale of beef in the state will be very serious crime and the state government is trying to implement some laws to stop  cow slaughter.


Currently,  there are six major cities in Gujarat  whose municipal corporations are under the BJP  rule. They are likely to bring a  resoultion to ban beef in their respective city -- Ahmedabad, |Surat, Bhavnagar, Rajkot and Vadodara.


Palitana Municipal Committee is buckling under the pressure of the Jain religious leadership and passed a resolution in its general body to ban the sale of meat and other non-vegetarian food, including eggs, within the municipal limits. The decision would be implemented after inviting objections from the residents of the town with a population of over one lakh, with 25 per cent of it being Muslims.


According to the local government officials, about 40 percent of the population of the town is non-vegetarian. A municipal official told this reporter that apart from Muslims, many Hindu communities like Kolis are also non-veg and opposing the decision. Out of two non-veg hotels in the town, one is run by a Sindhi Hindu and another by a Muslim.


BJP is in majority in the municipality, occupying 30 seats in a house of 36. Six Congress members led by Hidabhai Baloch, a Muslim, boycotted the resolution. However, Baloch refused to make any comment when contacted.


Municipality's chief executive officer J L Dave said: ``We will invite objections from the people as it is a policy matter. We can't take a decision on our own. Depending on the response of the people, we will write to the state government.'' He said that everything would depend on the reactions of the people to the municipality.


Another official told that this decision was taken by the municipality under political pressure as Jains were politically veryinfluential in the state and contributed a lot to the BJP election coffers. However, the official said that the decision for a ban was not as per constitutional provisions.
Muslim residents of the town fear that if the ban is implemented, they would also not be allowed slaughter animals during Baqrid which is their religious duty. They say that the decision is in favour of one community, overlooking the religious responsibilities of the other.


They have requested the administration not to buckle under the pressure of Jains who do not account for even five percent of the town's population. Palitana is a well-known Jain pilgrim town, with thousands of Jain visiting the temple every year. Palitana is about 70 kms from Bhavnagar about 400 kms from Ahmedabad.


Well-known social activist Dr. J.S. Bandukwala from Vadodara, said  "It is ironic that Jains are so paranoid about the sale of even eggs, considering it as killing life. Yet the Jains were the leaders of the 2002 Gujarat pogrom . The rapes, killings and loot were organised by Jain leaders, among them Amit Shah, the Modi confidante, now barred by the Supreme Court from entering Gujarat. To the best of my knowledge, no Jain Acharya has denounced these killings of Muslims."


[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]
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