Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Aarefa Johari - Unemployment and attempted suicide: stories from a massive rally against Maharashtra's beef ban

Butchers, beef traders, farmers, meat eaters, sanitation workers, students – in a diverse show of strength against Maharashtra’s beef ban, more than 5,000 people from across the state held a day-long protest in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Organised by the Sarva Shramik Sangh under the umbrella of the New Trade Union Initiative, the protest started out at Maharashtra’s largest abattoir in Deonar and ended with nearly four hours of speeches and sloganeering at Azad Maidan. Union leaders also presented a detailed letter of dissent to the chief minister through Madhav Bhandari, the only representative of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party present at the protest.

Lashing out against the state government’s decision on March 2 to extend the long-standing ban on cow slaughter to bulls and bullocks, the protesters repeatedly emphasised that the change has left more than "one crore Maharashtrians" without a source of livelihood, besides stripping consumers of their right to choose their own food.

Besides students and beef consumers from a variety of backgrounds, a delegation of sanitation workers from Mumbai participated in the protest to support those directly affected by the ban. “I don’t eat beef from bulls or bullocks, but it’s not right when so many people lose their jobs,” said Baghuram Salve, a sanitation worker.

Most prominent among the protesters, however, were members of the All India Jamiatul Qureshi, an organisation of the Qureshi caste of Muslims historically engaged as butchers. Here are some of their stories.

‘I tried killing myself this week’.. read more:'s-beef-ban