Goa Church demands beef from BJP government

Panaji, May 7 (IANS) The Church in Goa wants the state government to put beef on the dinner tables in the thousands of Christian and Muslim homes, even as the high court last week tried to streamline slaughtering laws in the state.

Fr. Savio Fernandes, executive secretary of the Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP), a social arm of the influential Roman Catholic church in Goa, has also criticised the high court’s order calling it an “infringement on the religious rights of minorities in Goa”.

The high court order has put a stop to import of bulls for slaughter into Goa, as well as a ban on killing of bovines below the age of 12, after an NGO ‘Govansh Raksha Abhiyan’ in its petition alleged illegal slaughtering of animals at the Goa Meat Complex, the only authorised facility.

“The CSJP views with disappointment the failure of the government to intervene and act with a sense of fairness and justice to the meat traders and those who consume beef as an essential part of their diet,” Fernandes said, accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government of not acting with enough “urgency” to find an acceptable solution to the beef crunch in the state.

Evidence submitted to the court by the petitioners partly suggested that young bulls were illegally sanctioned for slaughter by the government veterinarians posted at the meat complex.

A three-member committee appointed by the Court to check the facts has confirmed the allegations.

The stoppage of Goa’s sole legally functioning abattoir, the Goa Meat Complex, has kept beef off the counters and off the menu in restaurants in the state.

And beef on the black market has hit an unprecedented Rs.350 a kg, abiout Rs.200 more than than the usual rate.

“The recent interim order of the High Court of Bombay in Goa has literally crippled the functioning of the Goa Meat Complex having wide repercussions on the livelihood of the meat traders and the large number of consumers both of whom belong to the minority community,” Fernandes has claimed.

The beef traders Monday staged a dharna – a sit-in strike – in the state, asking the government to find a way out of the crisis.

“The CSJP, moreover, questions the blatant silence of the legislators on this issue of importance to the minority communities,” Fernandes said.

Raising doubts about Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s secular credentials, Fernandes urged him to demonstrate his concern over the situation.

“We demand that the chief minister meet afflicted groups as a matter of urgency and demonstrate that he truly means to be equitable to all religious communities,” Fernandes said.

With Catholics account for a 26 percent share in the state’s population of 14 lakh, the Church is an influential religious organisation.

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