The meat traders in Delhi Thursday opposed SDMC’s diktat on restaurants displaying the halal or jhatka meat distinction, opining that the move is divorced from the reality of the trade as 80% of meat supplied to the national capital from the Ghazipur slaughterhouse is of the halal variety.
According to a report by The Indian Express, the meat traders argued that in most cases, the hoteliers and other bigger traders focus more on the price of the meat than on the method of slaughtering the animal. Irshad Qureshi, general secretary of the Delhi Meat Merchant Association, said that in case of chicken, traders buy live poultry from the Ghazipur market. And in the case of goat and buffalo meat, though there is a slaughterhouse with separate sections for halal and jhatka, the big clients usually do not differentiate between the two as for them price matters.
Qureshi also said that usually Muslims differentiate more between halal and jhatka than Hindus. “Muslim butchers naturally have expertise in the halal variety while Hindu khatiks are employed by many non-Muslim meat shops. But you will also find a large number of Muslim shops employing Hindu butchers. The nature of the trade is such,” said Irshad Qureshi.
Owner of a halal meat shop at Delhi’s INA market, who did want to be named, said the order “makes no sense” as it will have “no impact” on consumer behaviour. He opined that rather SDMC should crackdown on illegal roadside meat sellers as they are unregulated and lead to revenue losses for the authorised traders, and also carry the risk of spreading disease.
“In restaurants, most people don’t place special requests for halal or jhatka. A very small percentage does, it makes no economic sense for traders to source jhatka meat for them,” the owner said, adding that Hindu meat sellers in the market, selling mostly chicken, call him if a customer places a request for halal variety.
Meanwhile, another owner of a standalone poultry meat stall in a DDA market said that they are not required to display halal or jhatka variants under the norms. “We sell jhatka meat. Customers who want halal meat have their own source.”
The SDMC order
We reported earlier that the municipal corporation passed a resolution mandating restaurants and meat shops in South Delhi to display whether they are selling Halal or Jhatka meat. “There are thousands of restaurants in 104 wards of four zones falling under South Delhi Municipal Corporation. Out of these, meat is served in about 90 per cent of restaurants but it is not mentioned whether the meat being served by the restaurants is ‘halal’ or ‘jhatka’,” said the resolution passed by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation.
The decision was taken keeping into consideration that in Hinduism and Sikhism, eating ‘halal’ meat is forbidden and against religion. Therefore, the committee resolved that this direction be given to restaurants and meat shops that it should be written mandatorily about the meat being sold and served by them that ‘halal’ or ‘jhatka’ meat is available here.
According to reports, officials have been ordered to take action against the eateries or retailers who flout the guidelines stated in the notice.
The controversy around Halal meat
Halal is the Islamic way of slaughter which can only be performed by a Muslim man. Thus, non-Muslims are automatically denied employment at a Halal firm. There are certain other conditions that must be fulfilled that makes it quite clear that it is intrinsically an Islamic practice. Guidelines make it clear that non-Muslim employees cannot be employed in any part of the slaughtering process.
Guidelines make it abundantly clear that only Muslim employees are allowed to participate in the entire process at every stage. Even the labelling of the meat can be done by Muslims only. Naturally, due to the discriminatory nature of the entire process, a controversy had erupted.
Recently, Christians in Kerala had also opposed the method and called for a boycott of halal meat.