Situating Animal Rights in the UP Conundrum

Years and years of plight for the innumerable cows, buffaloes and other animals in the ILLEGAL slaughter houses panned across the country seems to have taken a centre stage with sudden crackdowns, with Uttar Pradesh electing Adityanath Yogi as the CM. Within hours of his appointment, illegal abattoirs were being shut down in the state. What animal rights activists have been fighting for years and years, happened in a matter of hours! The aftermath? Meat sellers in Uttar Pradesh, one of India’s largest meat-producing states, decide to go on an indefinite strike. Even the registered ones (about 41 of them) are feeling the heat because of supply shortage and fear of action by government agencies. They are worried about the impact of this sudden move on their livelihood and their uncertain future. Even the chicken, fish sellers have joined the strike.

This move calls for a more in-depth analysis on what it means for the animals in our country, and more importantly, distinguish politics and religion from the fates of millions of sentient beings who are incoherent of these human derived concepts. FIAPO firmly believes that animal suffering needs to come to an end in recognition of their rights and not let politics or religion dominate the fate of animals. Else, once animals have served their need in the political jigsaw, the exploitation and abuse will continue – and we in the animal rights movement will continue to rue “politics” and “politicians”.

We are rejoicing that with the shutting down of slaughter houses, thousands of animals will live to see another day. That the issue of illegal slaughter has been brought center-stage. That today, animals are at least a part of the conversation. But are animals truly a part of the conversation? But do animals matter, or is the agenda – again – being dominated by religion and communities? Are animals mere pawns in a political game? The intrinsic value of animals continues to be ignored – slaughter houses need to close because animals have rights, because animals aren’t a commodity, and animals are certainly not food. When the rights of animals are recognized, that’s when we’ll be celebrating the closing of slaughterhouses. Not today. Not yet.