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Karnataka, India, to Introduce Bill to Prohibit Halal Meat

Muslims make up 14% of India’s population which is about 1.4 billion people. However, BJP Karnataka Legislative Council member, N Ravikumar, proposed on Monday to introduce a private bill in the House. This bill would ban food certification by any institution other than the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Political observers claim that this proposal has been made with an eye on Islamic institutions which certify halal food for Muslims.


Notably, earlier this year, a few pro-Hindu organizations in Karnataka called for a boycott of halal meat during Ugadi celebrations, which caused the halal issue to get widespread attention. To avoid doing business with Muslims, specific right-wing organizations launched this.


N Ravikumar said in a statement, “The FSSAI has the authority to check safety and standards of food products. But an unauthorized parallel system also certifies food products to control the market. We plan to introduce a section under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, banning halal certification by unauthorized agencies.”


However, Congress has not taken this issue lightly and is ready to oppose this bill in the assembly. Opposition in the House BK Hariprasad said, "We will request the Speaker of the Assembly not to approve Private Bill on Halal meat. Congress is ready to oppose this bill in the assembly." Congress leader UT Khadar also spoke out and mentioned we understand the strategy of the BJP. He said, "They want to divert public attention from issues like a failure, corruption, and voter data theft. The purpose of the anti-halal bill is to polarize voters on communal lines ahead of the assembly elections."


The Ugadi celebration marked the beginning of the halal meat debate. In Karnataka, many Hindu organizations, such as the Hindu Jagruti Samiti, Shri Ram Sena, and Bajrang Dal, came to the streets. People urged against purchasing halal meat from Muslim-owned stores. Halal was also requested to be removed from the display boards of meat-related businesses.


This is the second ban that has been placed on Muslims; the first occurred not too long ago in February when a ban arose that forbade students from wearing the hijab in classrooms. This caused a commotion to occur while leading to protests by Muslim students and parents. Muslim students challenged this ban in the Supreme Court, a ruling by a state court that upheld the ban in March. 


“It is a split verdict. The case has not ended. The matter has been referred to the chief justice who will constitute a larger bench. This is progress from what we got from the Karnataka High Court,” Anas Tanwir, a lawyer representing the Muslim girls, told Al Jazeera.


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