NEW DELHI, March 31 Abattoirs and meat sellers
across India called off a four-day strike on Friday after the
state government of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state, gave
assurances that mainly Muslim-run, unlicensed slaughter houses
would not be shut down or attacked.
There had been fears that demands by right-wing Hindu groups
to stop the slaughter of cows, considered holy in Hinduism,
could stoke communal tensions with Muslims, who dominate the
meat industry and make up 14 percent of India's 1.3 billion
"We have decided to call off the strike after a meeting with
the chief minister, who assured us that the state government
will renew the licences of slaughter houses," Chaudhary Aley
Ummar Qureshi, a general secretary of the Muslim All India
Jamiatul Quresh, told Reuters from Lucknow, the state capital.
"The government also assured us of protection from any
arbitrary or unlawful crackdown."
Hindu hardliner Yogi Adityanath ordered the closure of
abattoirs operating without licences soon after taking over as
chief minister of Uttar Pradesh on March 18. Some supporters
forcibly started shutting down meat shops and abattoirs, many of
whose licences ran out years ago.
The crackdown in Uttar Pradesh spread to other states ruled
by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party.
Traders will resume selling meat after the nine-day festival
of Navratra, when Hindu devotees fast and stay away from meat,
ends on Wednesday, Qureshi said.
In Modi's home state of Gujarat, 1,000 people, mostly
Muslims, were killed after a wave of Hindu-Muslim riots in 2002
when he was chief minister. A Supreme Court investigation found
no case against Modi, who denied any wrongdoing.
(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; additional reporting by Rajendra
Jadhav in MUMBAI; Editing by Nick Macfie)