What will you do if animals are slaughtered in your housing society? Will you like it if your neighbour cuts a chicken in front of your door? Is it how civilised societies function?
I have been thinking about all these questions since last Monday, when Muslim residents in my housing complex started bringing home goats for sacrifice. In the last week, over 50 goats were brought into our housing complex, which has 11 buildings.
A few of them were taken inside various homes, but most of them were kept outside in the parking area. The animals were fed constantly as they urinated and pooped right there. Although arrangements were made to clean the faeces, the stink was uncontrollable. Despite cleaning the area, goat poop was lying everywhere making the whole place rather unhygienic.
Last night, when we saw a huge tent being erected for slaughtering, we approached the local police and registered our complaint. But they were non-committal. So, late in the night, I called up some friends in the media. They too showed little interest, as they thought that a story of this nature might create unnecessary religious tension.
I was sad to read in the newspapers that the Bombay High Court had allowed animal sacrifice inside residential societies. While I was reading this piece of news, around 8 AM, residents started gathering in the tent below, and I could hear their loud noises. I was fine with that. But then, I heard shrieking goats being sacrificed and I was definitely NOT fine with that.
One after another reluctant goats were dragged inside the tent and the screaming continued. In fact, I can hear them as I write this piece. Children of non-Muslims families haven’t dared to step out of their homes all day. A part of the tent is open, so one can see blood and flesh from all the slaughtering. But the worst part is the horrible smell emanating from this make-shift slaughterhouse.
It doesn’t end there. The Qurbani committee in our society invited Muslims from the larger neighbourhood to bring their animals for slaughter here too. So, over 200 animals are being slaughtered right where I live. This is illegal. Even if they have got the required permission from the BMC, I’m sure they don’t have the permission to cut hundreds of animals in a housing society. 10-15 policemen stand as witnesses, watching this slaughtering unfold.
I have many close Muslim friends, and they are respectful of my feelings. I’m not against Muslims or their festivals. In fact, I would have loved to be part of the Eid celebrations. I’m a non-vegetarian myself and would have savoured their sumptuous recipes. But, I cannot accept animals being cut right outside my door. There are designated slaughterhouses for this very purpose.
The reason why I’m writing this is because I’m worried about next year. Last year, they had butchered around 40 animals. This year, they invited others into the colony and the number has gone up to 200. Next year, I fear they will invite all of Kurla and thousands of goats will be lined up for sacrifice at my gate. This has to stop. We have decided that this cannot happen and will fight for it.
I am not against any religion. I’m against the misuse of public spaces for religious activities. If we’ve banned smoking and hookahs at public places, the same logic should apply to the killing of animals in common areas, especially where families move around freely.
(As told to Ashish Dikshit by Antonette Pinto)