Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday indicated that he was not in favour of allowing large-scale Eid-ul-Adha festivities and asked people to celebrate the festival, likely to be observed on August 1, in a symbolic manner.
A delegation of Muslim MLAs across party lines had an online meeting with Thackeray and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, in presence of top state government as well as police officials, to chart a plan on how Eid could be celebrated, and how qurbani, the ritual sacrifice of goats, could be conducted amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
A similar meeting also took place on Monday between MLAs and Guardian Minister Aslam Shaikh, where BMC officials claimed that they were contemplating setting up mandis for the purchase of animals in each ward to ease the load on Deonar market, the traditional market for buying animals.
On Wednesday, however, officials as well as the chief minister were equivocal that setting up such mandis across the city and allowing large-scale celebrations would be detrimental to the effort to contain the spread of Covid-19, and that the festival should be celebrated in a symbolic way.
“While Covid-19 cases are spreading daily, we are making all attempts to prevent the same. In the last four months, festivals of all religions were celebrated in a low-key manner. Similarly, Bakrid should also be celebrated in a low-key manner, symbolic if possible, by following all measures,” Thackeray said.
“We have to ensure that there is no crowding. There should not be an insistence to purchase goats and sheep at mandis. Transportation may lead to an increase in the number of cases. We should fight the challenge this year,” Thackeray added.
State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said he was not in favour of allowing festivities. “Considering the stress on the police to enforce the lockdown, Bakrid should be celebrated in a simple manner,” he said.
Aslam Shaikh, Minister for Textiles and Fisheries, said the government was likely to allow online purchase of goats or sheep to avoid crowding. The guidelines for Bakrid festivities are likely to be issued tomorrow, he added.
Congress leader Arif Naseem Khan, however, wrote to the CM and others requesting guidelines for Bakrid. “Our demand is that the government should allow civic markets in all wards to be used for four to five days for Bakrid. So that purchase and sacrifice of goats can be carried out by following distancing measures. The government should issue guidelines immediately,” Khan said.
The MLAs, who were part of the meeting, said the government was unwilling to allow the festival to be celebrated in the usual manner. Apart from allowing sale of animals in markets, the state’s help was also needed to create temporary abattoirs to conduct the ritualistic slaughter of animals, they added.
Under prevalent laws, all animals can only be slaughtered in abattoirs. The state, however, has the power to make an exemption to this rule and allow people to slaughter animals outside as well.
During Bakrid, the municipal commissioner, under Section 403E of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, generally makes an exception for three days and grants written permission for slaughtering animals to all those who purchase animals from the Deonar yard.
The MLAs said this year it was unlikely that a similar exception would be made.
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