Karnataka appears to be headed for another huge controversy on the heels of the hijab ban, with a leader of the ruling BJP planning a bill to ban halal meat a year before the state elections. The matter is expected to create a storm in the state assembly, which started its winter session yesterday. The Congress is set to oppose the bill.
The state government says it is yet to take a call on whether it would back the bill. “Let’s see when it comes; private member bill has its own position. We will see what it is,” Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai is quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
The BJP’s Ravi Kumar, a member of the assembly’s upper house, who is privately moving the bill, has claimed that halal certification is done by Muslim bodies” which “charge huge fees for certification” and are making huge profits from this.
Maintaining that the “identity and status” of these Muslim bodies is not clear, the bill proposes that “halal certification be banned, till a recognised is authority appointed”.
Reports said Mr Ravikumar — who is also the general secretary of the state BJP — had earlier written to Governor Thawar Chand Gehlot on the issue.
Now he has written to the Chairman of the Legislative Council, seeking permission to introduce the Bill to amend the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, to ban any private person or organisation from issuing certification of foods, reported PTI.
The letter claims the proposed amendment will not put any financial burden on the government and will, rather, bring in an additional revenue of Rs 5,000 crore for the state exchequer, PTI reported.
Controversy over halal meat — where animals are slaughtered according to Islamic religious specifications — started earlier this year, with a BJP leader calling it “economic jihad”. Several right-wing organisations had even called for a boycott of eateries which serve halal meat during the Navratri and Ugadi festivals.
Ahead of Diwali, some right-wing organisations had held protests outside multinational food chain outlets like KFC and McDonald’s, demanding they should not serve halal certified meat to non-Muslims.
The Congress has claimed the ban on halal is a BJP ploy to detract attention from their misgovernance and the real issues in the state, which will have its assembly elections next year.
Karnataka went through turbulence earlier this year with the state government banning the use of hijab by girl students in educational institutions. The High Court had upheld the ban after which the matter went to the Supreme Court.
In October, the top court delivered a split verdict, with one judge maintaining that the state is authorised to enforce uniform in schools and the other describing hijab as a matter of choice.
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