After fasting for 15 hours a day in humid July’s scorching heat, everyone of us in Kashmir is genuinely busy managing the best feast on Tuesday, this Eid. It is a divine order that the faithful must have good food to celebrate the conclusion of a great month of blessings.
Obviously, we look for delicacies within the eating habits and in Kashmir, it is usually the meat: the beef, the mutton and the poultry. Fish continues to be at the fag end of our priority, either because of the lack of it or this aquatic source of great food is out of fashion.
The voracious mutton eating habits have given the Wazwaan country a new identity. It sustains a huge economy within and outside J&K. It is this aspect of our collective life that is focus of this letter so that the faithful ponder over how de-linking the commerce from the divine orders has created a mess of our collective thinking and morality.
Look at the figures and the volume that we consume in a calendar year. The government informed the state assembly this spring that state’s overall requirement for mutton has crossed 560 lakh kilograms. If it can simply be written for lower primary kids, the figure is 56000000 or 5.6 crore kgs or 560000 tons. The government said that 55% of this volume is net import. That means the state, it is mostly Kashmir, consumes mutton worth Rs 900 plus crore a year!
Now think about the poultry. Official figures put the yearly requirement at 673 lakh kilograms. While government figures make us believe that more than two third is local, the overall commerce it generates is touching Rs 900 crore a year. Which part of this turnover we retain and what is the volume of flight of capital is beyond the scope of this letter.
Add eggs, milk and other basics, the overall economy triggered by these few products is nearing Rs 3200 crore a year! Our eating habits are sustaining sheep breeding in Rajasthan, poultry farming in Himachal Pardesh, Haryana and Punjab. Even parts of UP are sourcing their part of the cake by managing part of the supplies.
Why Kashmir has failed miserably in managing most of its requirements locally would continue to be a policy makers dilemma, but is beyond the scope of this letter. The focus is while we must have what we can afford and we have right to, are we really following the ways and methods that are laid down by the faith we adhere to?
Islam has clearly detailed the foods that are permitted and has elaborately laid down the dos and do nots involved in the process of sourcing it. The Koran has clearly identified the rights that species involved in the food chain enjoy. Mere slaughter by sharp edged weapon does not make things halal on us, I believe.
When reports reach Srinagar that animal rights activists in Delhi have seized truckloads of sheep and goats, we obviously see a clear Hindu bias in it. It cannot be ruled out either. But the findings by an official committee recently in Delhi suggest that the mutton eaters of Kashmir may have to invoke their rights as consumers to get the best of halal mutton.
The findings that appeared in a Delhi based newspaper suggested that the sheep are stuffed in trucks beyond the capacity. In certain cases, they are tranquilized to ensure tension free transfer. In order to ensure that they make room for more heads, their limbs are fractured. For most of the distance between Rajasthan to Srinagar, they are kept hungry and thirsty. That might be the case why a portion of the imports are either dead or near dead, once the trucks halt for unload. In most of the cases, those nearing death – out of starvation or injury, are the first that go under butcher’s knife and obviously to my and your dinner table! This is not the halal, we are supposed to have.
The owners of recently started 7C’s Restaurant told a select gathering of media persons well before the Ramazan that his high-end chef, a super specialist in mutton preparations, refused using locally sourced mutton. The reason: it was unfit for better and tasty preparations. The restaurant now sources mutton directly from Delhi. It flies it frozen.
If Kashmir is unwilling to stake its pie in its Rs 1800 crore plus mutton economy, it speaks either of its magnanimity that it spears it for Rajasthan or its lack of capacity. But if it fails to use this huge turnover in not getting the best, it speaks about Kashmir’s stupidity and foolishness. It is directly linked to his health and faith too.
Even in managing the poultry, the trade is using the worst methodology. Profiteering apart, there are two habits with poultry people which are in clear violations of the Islamic way of life: they move the poultry birds upside down using their legs for easy shifting; and most of them halal the birds for us as the flocks are watching! How can this be halal? Do you know that farmers are harshly asked not to feed the flocks for 24 hours before they are shifted to the retailors? This is because they do not want the food intake becomes part of the purchase weight!
As Kashmir is busy procuring the mutton and poultry, I thought it is the best time to share with you the other side of the story that we conveniently ignore. I wanted to convey faithful that of the many races that the Almighty extinguished, one was destroyed simply because they were cruel to animals. Koran bears the testimony.
Ponder over these things. And accept my Eid greetings. I am a concerned mutton eater and I do not follow what Maneka Gandhi says.
R S Gull