LIKE most Hindus and Sikhs, till recently I never bothered whether the non-vegetarian food I ate was halal or jhatka. It was during net surfing that I came across a news item about the Islamist angle in fanatic promotion halal food.
I also realised that the local Easyday story (Vaishali, Ghaziabad) from where I buy a lot of groceries prominently displays a placard at its non-veg counter saying that all food sold here is halal. When I requested the store manager to keep jhatka meat, which is traditionally consumed by Hindus and Sikhs, he flatly told me that it was not possible because it had already been decided by top bosses that only halal meat would be sold. “You can write down your complaint, but nothing can be done,” he frankly informed me. I submitted the request nonetheless on July 5.
Unsurprisingly, nobody got back to me from Easyday. What is surprising, however, is the fact that Easyday, owned by the Sunil Mittal-promoted Bharti group, has the temerity to offend the sensibilities of the millions of Sikhs and Hindus by selling only halal meat. And that too in India.
A sharpened knife quickly cuts the front of the throat of the animal without killing it in one stroke. It is actually ritual killing, with the head of an animal aligned with the Qiblah, or the direction that Muslims should face while praying.
The official Khalsa Code of Conduct proscribes halal and recommends the jhatka form of meat. The traditional Hindu slaughter is also jhatka. In fact, it is mandatory in Hindu ritual sacrifices that the head is severed in one stroke, otherwise it is considered a bad omen. In short, there is clear religious sanction for jhatka meat, if not specific injunction barring Hindus eating halal meat.
While Easyday stores are openly ensuring the consumption of halal meat only, it is anybody’s guess how many other non-veg sellers, restaurants, and hotels have silently nodded to Shariat compliance. Media Brahmins and opinion makers, of course, would not say anything against the Islamisation of our food habits, lest they be accused of being ‘communal.’ Besides, it is just a small matter; the animal has to die anyway—this line of argumentation helps cowards avoid any confrontation with Islamists.
The Islamists, on the other hand, leave no stone unturned to promote Shariat compliance. The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC), the leading organisation of Muslims Down Under, recently demanded a new taxpayer-funded halal training centre to train refugees for jobs slaughtering animals in rural areas. Such a centre, the AFIC said, would boost meat and livestock industry and create jobs. And it will create more jobs for Muslims, while imposing Islamic food habits on non-Muslims—at the expense of Australian taxpayers.
Concerted action by Muslim groups has already made the authorities and businesses to submit to their demands. The South African National Halal Authority issues certificates for halal products. In Dearborn, Michigan, fast food restaurant chains, including McDonald’s, sell halal chicken nuggets. In February 2009, Kentucky Fried Chicken began selling halal food in the UK. Europe, where Muslim population has grown over the years, has witnessed the mushrooming of several organisations to certify the halal products.
Quite apart from the question of imposition of proscribed food practices on Sikhs and Hindus, there is the issue of animal rights. In 2003, the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) found that halal causes considerable suffering to animals and, therefore, should be banned. According to the FAWC, which is an independent advisory body established by the Government of Great Britain in 1979, cattle die after up to two minutes of the cut. The then FAWC chairperson, Judy MacArthur Clark, said, “This is a major incision into the animal and to say that it doesn’t suffer is quite ridiculous.”
This view was supported in April 2008 by Lord Rooker, the Food & Farming Minister in the UK at that time. He was quoted as saying, “I object to the method of slaughter … My choice as a customer is that I would want to buy meat that has been looked after, and slaughtered in the most humane way possible.”
In India, however, not many politicians have the courage to speak their minds on anything that is related to Muslims. So, it is for us, the people of India, to protect our religious and traditional rights, culinary practices, and age-old customs. More than anything else, we have to resist the imposition of Shariat by stealth. Today, it is halal; tomorrow, it will be Islamic banking; nobody knows where it will end. So, it is time the Sikhs and Hindus asserted their rights and forced all stores and restaurants to sell jhatka meat. It is time to say no to halal.