People sacrificing animals for the upcoming festival of Eid Ul Zuha, popularly known as Bakrid, can now receive online permissions for it. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to start an online process for a limited period between August 21 and September 4, where individuals can upload their details and get permissions to sacrifice an animal. The civic body will also launch a mobile application for this.
Under the existing laws, animals can only be slaughtered in abattoirs. However, the BMC has the power to make an exemption to this rule and allow people to slaughter animals in other places as well. During Bakrid, the municipal commissioner under Section 403 E of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act (MMCA) will make an exception for three days and grant written permission for slaughtering to all those who will purchase animals from the Deonar yard.
Up until now, the gate pass issued at the Deonar abattoir was seen as a document that was accepted as permission. However, many a times, the gate pass would not carry the name of the final buyer, leading to harassment and problems in observing the ritual.
Under the new system, a person who has a valid gate pass after buying an animal can go on the BMC website and upload his identification proof as well as gate pass number to get a customised licence to sacrifice under his name. “We have kept the application simple, in which people will have to put in their name, address and upload one of five accepted government identification documents. They will also have to mention the date on which they are planning to carry out the ritual,”said Yogesh Shetye, general manager of the Deonar abattoir.
“The information will be available to the respective ward offices as well, who will then be able to collect the animal remains and dispose of them properly. People who purchase animals will have time till September 4 to register,” Shetye added.
Shetye pointed out that the application will be closed after September 4 and permissions for slaughtering animals at other times of the year can be procured by filling out a form at the abattoir. He said that earlier, the gate pass was considered as a form of permission, but it was difficult to keep track of people who were purchasing the animals for slaughter. “At the abattoir, around 2.5 lakh goats sold during the festival. This application has been created as a form of ease of operations. As per the MMC Act, the municipal commissioner is authorized to grant permission for slaughtering outside the Deonar abattoir.
Even earlier, we would try to keep track of the names of the persons purchasing the animals at the abattoir, but it was hard. This is why we have come up with this solution,” he said. The abattoir general manager added that permissions for facilities like water supply and setting up of tents will be granted by the ward office.
“Every thing else stays the same. People can get the remaining permissions from the ward office. The gate pass, however, will now be replaced with the online permission. Once people have entered their details, they will get the permission online and they can either retain a soft copy of it or even print it out for a hard copy,” said Shetye.
Speaking in support of the approach, Samajwadi Party corporator Rais Shaikh pointed out that the idea of the mobile application was aimed at following the directions issued by the Bombay High Court last year.
“Earlier, the gate pass was considered as permission, which would often not be in the name of the person performing the ritual. In cases where the housing society raise objections to the sacrificing of animals, people are harassed when the police come to ask for the permission slip. There is no change in the procedure of buying.”
“The application is a digital solution and a facility extended to people,” he said. Calling it a “needless harassment”, Mohamed Qureshi, president of the Mumbai Suburban Beef Dealer Association, said that including personal details for seeking permission for Bakrid was a way to intimidate people of the community.
“If the BMC simply wants to maintain data, why do they need addresses and government ID proofs, when none of that was required earlier? Given the political developments in the country, first they imposed the beef ban, and are now monitoring people celebrating Bakrid. Many people are unaware of these registration norms and this is just a way to create an atmosphere of fear,” he said.
Qureshi said this kind of monitoring “is a step-by-step strategy of cornering the minorities”.
“Such regulations violate privacy of people and create a feeling of guilt associated with eating meat. If the logic is to monitor slaughtering out in public, why doesn’t the same rule apply to fish or chicken, that are also slaughtered publicly?” he said.
Other members from the Muslim community, including Congress corporator Asif Zakaria, said the new system would only prove to be a form of harassment and was not a practical solution. “Not everyone is tech-savvy and may not be able to use the application that most people are currently unaware of. What will happen to the people who are unable to access the application for these reasons and won’t be able to produce the accepted online permission? This is just an unnecessary form of harassment,” Zakaria said.