Shahid chacha, a 57-year-old “young” man, is furious, helpless and truly devastated as he has not earned a penny for the past 7 days. He says his family of six is forced to survive on his savings.
You must be wondering what has gone wrong with him. Let me bail you out of your misery.
Shahid chacha, or Mohammad Shahid Qureshi, is one of the biggest sellers of ice in Lucknow whose business has been virtually razed to dust ever since all the “illegal” slaughterhouses have been shut down in and across Lucknow.
“My entire business was dependent on the amount of meat that used to be exported from Lucknow as my job was to ensure a proper supply of ice for those delivery vans,” says Shahid, wondering if he would be able to bring his business back on track ever.
A major chunk of his business comprised of selling ice to mutton and beef sellers exporting their meat to traders or companies outside Lucknow but a blanket ban on the illegal slaughterhouses has hit him hard, so much so that he is mulling selling fruits in the local market besides selling ice to ice cream vendors in Lucknow.
The ban on slaughterhouses has considerably impacted lives and livelihood of thousands of people like Shahid chacha. The condition is such that small traders have no option but to start thinking about an alternative job option.
To get a real sense of their problems, I spent a whole day with the meat traders in old Lucknow’s Balojpura Lane that houses the most number of meat shops in the city of Kebabs.
While closure of slaughterhouses has resulted in downing of shutters of the meat shops of almost all the meat sellers here, the other big problem, in fact the biggest of them all, is sustaining the livelihood of thousands of daily wagers, who work in these retail meat shops.
“The condition is such that these workers have now started selling things of their basic needs — utensils, old clothes — to feed themselves. Those who have some ornaments are selling them off to sustain,” a jeweller told me on the condition of anonymity.
I myself roamed around the area and found the condition to be really disheartening. All the shops are shut, there’s no business whatsoever. People are planning to meet government with their side of the story.
It happened too on Tuesday when a delegation of workers met UP Health Minister Sidharth Nath Singh with their specific points and said they were “partially satisfied” with the meeting and the response that Singh has given them.
But, the real question is; who is really responsible for this fiasco?
Now, according to traders, their licenses have not been renewed for the past three years and as a result their businesses have now become illegal.
Question must be asked why Akhilesh Yadav mustn’t be held accountable to answer as to why their licenses weren’t renewed? Is it also not a responsibility of Azam Khan, the then Urban Development Minister, to come out and explain why the licenses were not renewed?
But for now, when the illegal slaughterhouses have been forcibly and rightly shut down, what it has led to is a massive scarcity of meat — especially buffalo and goat meat — in the market and as a result, some of the iconic restaurants and eatery joints in Lucknow and across Uttar Pradesh are suffering.
But will the problem of these age-old traders end? Will their be the “Buff Kebab” on platters of the Nawabs? Will the Yogi Adityanath govt renew their licenses in the coming days?
Well, these are some questions answer of which will be clear once a proper meeting is done and orders are made public in this regard!
But till then, While Nawabs are missing Kebabs, traders and retailers are waiting for that golden message (read order) from the government that can bring back cheers on their faces and glory in their businesses!
But for people in Lucknow, you’ll have to forget your favourite”Buff Kebabs” at the Tundey Kababi for sometime now.