The Bharatiya Janata Party had promised that it would close down slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh within 24 hours of coming to power. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath fulfilled the party’s promise of shutting down illegal slaughterhouses. The swift action was lauded by certain sections of his constituency. However, as it turned out, the decision was half-baked and a roadmap to carry out an exercise of such monumental scale was not prepared in advance. The decision that was taken in haste by the new administration has resulted in a crisis in Uttar Pradesh within days of assuming power. The meat is hard to get, the revenue and jobs are in jeopardy, the meat sellers are striking against the government, and the government is threatening vigilantes with strict action: clearly the fallout of slaughterhouses crackdown is gradually going out of the hands of the Yogi Adityanath government.

Though the state government has maintained that the action would be taken against only illegal slaughterhouses, media reports suggested that a few legal slaughterhouses were shut as well. NDTV reported that a licensed buffalo slaughterhouse, ALM industries was shut in Saharanpur. The reason was given that a permit to draw groundwater had been pending. The report further said that Al-Aqsa and Al-Yasir plants were also closed in Meerut for not having an approved map. Similar reports were shown by other media outlets. CNN-News18 telecast a report in which a few legal chicken shop owners alleged that they were beaten by police and they were ordered to shut shop despite having the required documents. The vigilantism has reportedly created panic as even chicken and mutton’s supply is hit. Meanwhile, a report suggested that even allied industries are being harassed.

The government acknowledged the high-handedness. UP health minister Sidharth Nath Singh warned vigilantes of strict action. He said only illegal slaughterhouses were to be closed. He also said that action was not against anyone, but just to restore proper functioning of the industry. (Also read: Meat sellers to CM Yogi Adityanath: Fight for nation, not for ‘gosht’)

Yogi Adityanath, the new CM, has no prior administrative experience and it shows. The unsuccessful illegal slaughterhouse ban would be an education for the new CM that the state doesn’t run merely on good intentions, ground realities also need to be taken into account while undertaking a project so big in size. The biggest mistake CM Adityanath made is that he invested too much trust in the ailing law enforcement agencies. The police, often criticised for its lack of professionalism, showed over-enthusiasm in implementing two of Yogi Adityanath’s key projects– anti-Romeo squads and illegal slaughterhouse ban. Both times the government had to warn vigilantes. Before making such a hasty move, the inefficiency of the ailing system was not pondered over.

It seems other important questions were not discussed as well before announcing such a big move.  According to a report in Hindustan Times, the industry is valued to be around Rs 15,000 crore and employs over 25 lakh people. The Yogi Adityanath government completely discounted the fact that the closure would result in big losses in revenue and employment. There was no plan for people who would lose jobs. The closure of slaughterhouses would also impact allied industries including food and leather.

A large chunk of supply-chain consists of unlicensed shops. Shutting down these shops would mean a huge gap in demand and supply. The Yogi Adityanath government has not made any arrangements to supply meat to the public.What the government should have done is send out notices to illegal slaughterhouses to mend ways or procure a license before taking action against them. At least, meat shop owners should have been given time to get licenses and comply with norms laid out for operation.

Another aspect that was not taken into consideration was what farmers would do to buffaloes that have stopped lactating. In the absence of slaughterhouses, the farmers would have to bear an additional burden of the upkeep of dry cattle.

The government did not ponder over these aspects before, but they will have to do that now as meat shop owners are striking and the new dispensation is under pressure.

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