How media headlines are creating confusion about slaughterhouses being closed in UP

Yogi Adityanath has taken charge as the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and action has already started. He has taken various decisions, but the one that is making the most noise of late is closing down of slaughterhouses.

If one goes mostly by the headlines appearing in various media organisations, it appears as if Yogi wants to turn UP into a vegetarian state and all slaughter houses are being closed down. In most of the cases, the media maintained ambiguity about whether the slaughterhouses in question were the ones which were being illegally operated or whether the government’s action was against all slaughterhouses irrespective of permits.

Before we progress any further, let’s see what the BJP had promised in its manifesto for the UP assembly elections [pdf]:

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The relevant part is the point number 2 in the above picture, which is from the part where the manifesto talks about animal husbandry. It says (emphasis added):

All illegal slaughterhouses would be closed with full force, and all mechanized slaughterhouses would have ban/restrictions imposed.

So as the point in manifesto clearly mentions, the illegal slaughterhouses have their days numbered (as they should have, because they are illegal) and the mechanized slaughterhouses would be banned or restricted (based on how you interpret the Hindi word ‘pratibandh‘).

Ideally, mechanized slaughterhouses should be banned or have restrictions imposed only if either they don’t have some required clearance or if they are found breaking some rules e.g. not stunning the animal before slaughter. The same was confirmed by the Uttar Pradesh government earlier:

So it is clear that the current clampdown on slaughterhouses is only on those that are illegal.

Now let us see how some media houses have reported the issue, starting with NDTV:

  • NDTV wrote a post titled, ‘Yogi Adityanath Orders Cops To Start Work On Banning Slaughterhouses
  • The Mint wrote a post titled, ‘Yogi Adityanath orders closure of slaughter houses in Uttar Pradesh
  • The New Indian Express wrote a post titled, ‘Uttar Pradesh slaughter houses on chopping block
  • Business Standard reported: ‘Adityanath orders closure of all slaughter houses in UP
  • Economic Times wrote: ‘Yogi Adityanath orders closure of slaughter houses, bans cow smuggling in UP‘. In fact, Economic Times goes on to quote some sources and writes “The sources, however, did not specify the type of slaughter houses which will be shut.

So in most of the cases, the headlines plus a sizable part of the reports didn’t clarify, or rather created confusion over the fact that it is only the illegal slaughterhouses that are being closed down.

To be fair, Amit Shah in an election rally had mentioned that BJP intended to ban all slaughterhouses so that cows and buffaloes can be used to create “rivers of milk” in the state. This could have led to the confusion that all slaughterhouses will be banned.

However, the manifesto and the latest statements from the state ministers confirm that only the illegal ones are being targeted. In fact, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath himself clarified that only illegal slaughterhouses will be shut down.

Furthermore, as per this report published in 2016, only 1 out of 126 slaughterhouses in UP had a valid permit. So if it appears that every slaughterhouse is being targeted, it is because almost all of them didn’t have the required permissions. These were allowed to be run by the previous state governments without proper licenses or clearances. Therefore, even in absence of clarification, the media houses could have highlighted this fact, but they chose to keep it ambiguous.

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