SDMC Mayor ‘felt people were uneasy’ about halal/jhatka
An SDMC official says order has no logic
There are approximately 1,800 restaurants in South Delhi Municipal Corporation, and all those serving meat here will now have to say if it is halal or jhatka. We spoke with the mayor of SDMC, Anamika Mithilesh who says the purpose of this decision was all in “public interest”, to let people eat what they wish to with ease, without questioning what they are eating.
She went on to say that the decision was made after looking at society and feeling that people while eating at restaurants felt uneasy about the meat they were having.
“Hum samaj main rehte hain. Aur samaj mai dekhkar hin hamare andar sey kuch bhavnaye nikalti hain. Kayi bar hume mehsus hua ki inloge ke mun main sansay hota tha khana khate samay. Sarv dharam ko dekhte hue, yeh jo nayi pehel hamari south dilli ki hain ye swagat yug ki hain jinke mun ke andar sansay hin nahi hoga”(looking at society, some emotions come out of us. I felt many times that people were uneasy while eating. Looking at all religions, these new initiatives are from our South Delhi, a welcoming era in which people will not have any unease), says the mayor.
She goes on to say that looking at the restaurant’s board which says halal or jhatka, persons of the community can give their order as they please.
Halal food is that which is in accordance with Islam. Halal meat therefore would be the permissible way of slaughtering which is to the jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe, draining the animal of its blood. Jhatka meat is that which is slaughtered instantly, severing the head of the animal. This is a practice admissible by Hindus and Sikhs.
A senior official at the SDMC tells Patriot they are least concerned about restaurants selling Halal or Jhatka meat, “public health is not affected by either halal or jhatka meat so we are least concerned. There’s no testing system to determine after the food is cooked what is jhatka and what is halal meat. You just have to display a board”.
He goes on to tell us that the order “has no logic”, in fact that what the actual reason is he will not be able to tell on record, “the logic behind this is something else altogether, but I cannot quote this”.
The BJP run SDMC is not the first to invoke such an order. The East Delhi Municipal Corporation too, again ruled by the right-wing BJP, did the same in 2018. Could focusing on differences in food habits bring about a communal angle? With the elections due next year, perhaps.
For restaurant owners it just brings about another perplexity, as Corona ruined their market and now with them slowly picking up, things may again go south. Owners point out that most restaurants and deliveries across Delhi-NCR are serving halal meat for various operational reasons, especially as most of the butchers are Muslims, serving halal meat. SDMC has 1,600 meat shops with each zone having about 400 meat shops, according to a senior official of the Corporation.
Once the signboard saying halal/jhatka served is displayed, those who didn’t care about what type of slaughtered meat they were about to order would now be informed. Another SDMC official tells us, restaurants have definitely been affected by the pandemic with about 15% less revenue made, they cannot establish if and how this halal/jhatka order would affect the restaurants.
The mayor tells us however, that till now, no restaurants have expressed anything against this order, in fact saying it was “welcomed by everyone”. “If anyone feels uneasy while going and eating at a restaurant, can now feel free to eat where they want, so tell me what loss can there be? They will eat meat, whichever community eats.”
According to the SDMC order, appropriate action will be taken against those found violating the rules. “There are thousands of restaurants in 104 wards of four zones falling under South Delhi Municipal Corporation. Out of these, meat is served in about 90% of restaurants but it is not mentioned whether the meat being served by the restaurants is ‘halal’ or ‘jhatka’,” said the resolution passed by the SDMC house.
“Eating halal meat is forbidden and against religion for Hindus and Sikhs. Therefore, this meeting resolves that this direction be given to restaurants and meat shops that they write mandatorily about the meat being sold by them”.
Our questions to the National Restaurant Association of India on the order, if restaurants would suffer and if patrons care about halal/ jhatka meat went unanswered. We did get a statement which says that “as Restaurateurs, our customers are at the epicentre of all our decisions. Our menus and offerings are primarily based on consumer preferences, demands and their availability thereof”. Furthermore it said “Without getting into the merits or rationale behind this decision, we don’t foresee any significant changes in the consumption pattern of the customers due to this.”
(Cover: Credit – Getty Images)