Representatives of the agitating meat-sellers and exporters on Thursday met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow, on the fourth day of their indefinite strike against the crackdown on illegal abattoirs, but there was no immediate end to the deadlock.
"The strike called by the mutton-sellers will continue at least till the end of Navaratra (April 5). It may be extended further if our demands are not met," Mubeen Qureshi, an office-bearer of the Lucknow Bakra Gosht Vyapar Mandal, told reporters after the meeting with the chief minister.
State Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh, who was present during the talks, said Adityanath assured the delegation that stern action would be taken if any officer acted against a legal and licensed slaughterhouse.
He said a firm assurance was given by the chief minister to the delegation that no adverse action will be taken by "overenthusiastic" officials while raiding the illegal abattoirs. "A way to move forward has been found and the intention of the government and the delegation is the same that no illegal action is carried out in Uttar Pradesh," Singh said, claiming that both the sides were "happy" over the outcome of the meeting.
However, the mutton traders' association was not very forthcoming on whether the strike would be called off in view of the chief minister's assurance. Singh said the government has to pay attention to the constitutionality of any of its actions and the chief minister has assured the meat-sellers that nothing was being done in a prejudiced manner and there was no directive to any official to act on caste or religious lines.
The chief minister has made it clear that stern action will be taken against those flouting the rules and this will not be tolerated from now on, he added. "We are happy that the delegation has hailed the chief minister and his views," Singh said.
The effects of the statewide strike have not been felt much in view of 'Navaratra', during which Hindus in north India generally abstain from consuming non-vegetarian food. Shops selling fish, eggs and chicken were open in the state capital but there were not many buyers.
Representatives of the agitating meat-sellers and exporters had earlier met Singh on Tuesday in order to arrive at a reconciliation. The office-bearers of their association had submitted a memorandum to the state government, seeking a meeting with the chief minister over their demands, which include allowing the slaughterhouses to operate as their closure was affecting their livelihood.
ANI reports that few meat traders were moved by the promises made by the chief minister and and decided to end the strike. A meat exporter Sirajuddin Quresh told ANI that the meeting with the chief minister was very 'successful' and appealed to the protesters to call off the strike.
He said that the chief minister has assured that only illegal slaughterhouses will be affected.
(Feature image source: PTI)