Shutters Down on Slaughterhouses: An Absurdist Tale From Yogistan

The closure of slaughterhouses in the state has left many jobless and exacerbated the socio-economic scenario.

Jhansi: “We voted for you, but now who should we ask for food?,” asks Ramvati, who is the reigning matriarch of a family-owned business that sells meat for a living in Jhansi and is perplexed about the ban imposed on her by the state.

There is a simmering rage on the other side of her confusion; this is a ban on her livelihood.

For the citizens of a state with an already burgeoning rate of unemployment – according to the 2016-17 Economic Survey (based on data from the labour ministry that comprises both the formal and informal sectors of the economy), there has been a sharp drop in employment in the past three years – this is akin to a last straw. The announcement that came from the UP chief minister Adityanath on March 22 effectively ordering the closure of “illegal” slaughterhouses has come in the wake of many a new scheme: Demonetisation; problematic farmer loan waiver schemes; a move against “illegal” mining that had led to a severe debilitation of donkey-owning families; and the retrospective demand for the registration of e-rickshaws.

Frazzled by the rounds of paperwork that have stopped making sense, families have resorted to bad loans that could exacerbate the crippling socio-economic scenario at the rural level. Dheeraj, a local butcher, tells us about his 40,000 rupees loan, for instance, which he has used to invest in “tiles, glass” and other such things that are the seeming order of the day for slaughterhouses. But it had made no difference. Jitu Khateek, the leader of the Bakra Ayvum Murga Union (The Goat and Chicken Union) has even met Adityanath about the problem, “When I met the CM, he spoke to me like I was from another planet. He refused to give me one satisfactory answer, in spite of seeing my application (and the fact that I had) all the correct documentation.”

It is crucial to note that a large section of people affected by these policies are informally employed and lack social security and efficient grievance redressal mechanisms. Often, their plight simply slips under the radar.

This is why Pushpa Devi minces no words, “The BJP has stolen the food out of our mouths our children.”

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