BYLINE: October 16, 2017 12:40:29The first ever protest against the ban on the import of beef and millet in India’s capital was held on Saturday.
In what has been termed a ‘millet protest’, thousands of farmers marched from the main road to the headquarters of the Maharashtra government in central Mumbai and raised the slogans: “India should not import beef.”
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was at the centre of the issue of beef ban, was not present at the protest.
He said he had been informed about the protest from the government but could not attend it.
“I will take the call of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra on the issue,” he said.
Maharashtrians who marched from Parel, the capital of Maharashtra, to the Maharashtra state assembly building in the capital said they would not accept any ban on meat.
“We are farmers.
We are not against beef.
We have to have meat in our diet.
We do not want to import beef from abroad,” said Dushyant Sharma, who came from Bhagalpur in the northern state of Andhra Pradesh.”
It is a matter of respect for our culture.
If people eat beef, they will respect our culture and we will have a happy and healthy country,” said Kunal Sharma, a farmer from the neighbouring state of Telangana.
Mulholland-based farmers’ organisation Dushanthan, which organised the protest, said in a statement that the protest was part of a campaign to “promote our culture of food preservation”.
“The government is imposing a ban on food production that is detrimental to our culture,” it said.
“The protest was a protest of our people who are suffering and are demanding the removal of this ban.”
Earlier on Saturday, the Congress-led UPA government had said that it would remove the ban.
But on Saturday night, the BJP-led government did not back down.
“In the last 15 years, the country has become a more vibrant and prosperous country, and it is not right that the government should ban a good food for the benefit of our farmers,” Union Minister for Food and Agriculture Ram Prakash Chaudhary said in the national capital.
The Maharashtra government is seeking a three-month extension of the ban after farmers raised objections over the import ban.