Monday, November 28th, 2022 10:22:55

Goat Caught in Political Cauldron

By Syed Wajid
Updated: January 12, 2021 2:28 pm

The controversy raging over eating halal or jhatka meat has left many confounded. The social platforms are crowded with pranks and hilarious examples; jokes stay afloat and people have begun to make digs at politicos for stoking the blazing inferno.


Does the food have a religion?

There erupted a big row over the religion of a delivery boy when a customer cancelled an order on Zomato (Amit Shukla, Jabalpur MP). The air remained thick for some time and the company delivering food was in the soup. This episode pushed people into differentiating between halal and jhatka meat from varied prospects. As it’s an open secret that hotels, restaurants and airliners are serving halal meat and many even with reservations gorge on it with relish.

Let’s understand the what the difference between two of the formats of slaughtering an animal.

The animal’s jugular vein is cut off so as to allow the blood drain out completely this is in halal slaughtering. The animal must be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter, and while slaughtering, a Muslim recites a verse from the Holy Quran, shahada.

Besides, the Halal Food Authority (HFA), a non-profit organization monitors adherence to halal principles. Theoretically, only healthy animals qualify for sacrifice in religious slaughtering. During, kosher or halal slaughter, a sharp knife is used at the ventral (front) portion of the neck of the animal with only a single cut (with multiple strokes without lifting the knife) the trachea, oesophagus, carotid arteries, jugular veins and vagus nerve are truncated to allow the blood to drain out of the body till the animal dies.

On the other hand, jhatka, the animal is killed by one stroke of the weapon causing minimal pain and suffering which is mandated in Hinduism and Sikhism.

It is believed that Guru Gobind Singh made jhatka meat obligatory for those Sikhs who are interested in taking meat as a part of their food.

Jhatka meat was not permitted to be served in prisons during the British reign and the Sikh detainees had to resort to violence to secure this right. There came the terms in the settlement between the Akalis and the Muslim Unionist government in Punjab in 1942, it stated that jhatka meat would continue by Sikhs.

Sikh festivals like HolaMohalla and Vaisakhi, at the Hazur Sahib Nanded, and many other Sikh Gurdwaras, jhatka meat is offered as sanctified food or mahaprasad to all visitors in a Gurdwara. This practice is considered to be wrong and not acceptable by major Sikhs they say that  only lacto-vegetarian langar is supposed to be served inside gurudwaras.

The jhatka way of slaughtering kills the animal by severing its head using one single blow. In both ways, either instant or prolonged killing, death is the result. However, there are many assumptions based on religions and scientific facts and findings. As per sources, animal slaughter for human consumption is regulated worldwide by various different legislations to safeguard the animal welfare facet of the process; the laws enacted are meant to ensure that the animals are slaughtered in a hygienic environment. However, in many countries including democracies like the USA, UK and India (in some of the states), these very legislations exempt religious animal slaughtering practices from following the humane aspect of this process, which is a fundamental deviation from the standpoint of animal welfare.

There are ways to measure pain is the EEG (electroencephalogram) or the study of neuronal electrical response in the brain. However, animals like cow and sheep do not often exhibit their pain; EEG study works perfectly to unmask their sensation of pain.  Scientists have shown that within 5-10 seconds of cervical dislocation (jhatka) the function of the cerebral cortex (brain) stops. Similar studies by French investigators for ventral neck incision ( halal), have shown the cattle to exhibit pain response up to 60 seconds and sometimes for minutes. On the other hand, if the cut is not successful during halal, the animal undergoes unbearable pain. The reason behind this suffering is twofold: primarily, the nerve connection through spinal cord is intact and secondly, the vertebral arteries that also supply blood to the brain are unaffected during halal slaughter.

In contrast, during the jhatka way of slaughter, both the neural and blood vascular connection is instantaneously disrupted, as a result, no oxygen is supplied to the brain and hence, the animal after decapitation, completely loses consciousness.

Earlier on, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC)  passed a proposal with regard to mandatory mention of halal or jhatka for the meat being served at restaurants. Meat is being served in about 90% of restaurants but it is not mentioned whether the meat being served by the restaurants is halal or jhatka. Similarly, the meat shops also do not make the distinction either.

‘halal’  exits meaty route

A government body lately has deleted the word “halal” from a red meat manual; this came about when allegations were leveled by some Hindu groups that the term halal gives an unfair business advantage to Muslim exporters. Halal,  a term used for consumer goods within the ambit of Islamic doctrine. Several Islamic countries import only halal-certified meat. The animals are slaughtered strictly according to ‘Halal’ method to meet the requirements of Islamic countries.

The debate rages high when a section of Hindu groups with VHP complained that use of the word in the manual implied that APEDA (The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) was making it mandatory for exporters to buy and acquire only “halal-certified” meat . They argue that apart from Islamic countries in West Asia, India also exports meat to countries such as China and Sri Lanka, where ‘halal’ certification is not needed.

There comes another reference where animals slaughtered by way of halal in the presence of representatives of recognized Islamic bodies for certification in Muslim nations has also been replaced with the animals slaughtered to the needs importers in other countries.

A group called Halal Niyantran Manch (Halal Regulation Forum) took credit after the APEDA move. It had been petitioning the government to do away with the word from the manual.

“The Congress government,(taking digs at Mani Shankar Aiyar)  had forced APEDA to come out with an order that all manufacturers or exporters of meat will have to compulsorily register with APEDA, and buy and acquire only halal-certified meat,”  Harinder Sikka, spokesperson of the Manch declared. .

This has ousted Hindus, Sikhs, SC and STs (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, 40 million people) from meat selling businesses.

By Syed Wajid

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