After Hijab, Proposed Halal Ban May Be Karnataka’s Next Controversy

After Hijab, the proposed Halal Ban could be the next controversy in Karnataka

New Delhi:

Karnataka seems headed for another major controversy over the hijab ban, with a ruling BJP leader planning a bill to ban halal meat a year before the state elections. The issue is expected to create a storm in the state assembly which started its winter session yesterday. Congress is poised to oppose the bill.

The state government says it has yet to take a call on whether it will support the bill. “Let’s see when it comes; the private member’s bill has its own position. We will see what it is,” Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.

BJP’s Ravi Kumar, a member of the upper house of the assembly, who is moving the private bill, said that the halal certification is done by Muslim organizations who “charge huge fees for the certification” and are making huge profits.

While maintaining that the “identity and status” of these Muslim bodies remain unclear, the bill proposes to “prohibit halal certification until a recognized authority is appointed.”

According to reports, Mr. Ravikumar — who is also the BJP state general secretary — had earlier written to Governor Thawar Chand Gehlot on the issue.

He has now written to the Speaker of the Legislative Council, seeking permission to introduce a Bill to amend the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 to prohibit any private person or organization from issuing food certification, PTI reported.

The letter states that the proposed change will not put a financial burden on the government and will, on the contrary, bring an additional revenue of Rs 5,000 crore to the state exchequer, PTI reported.

The debate over halal meat, where animals are slaughtered according to Islamic religious specifications, began earlier this year with what a BJP leader called “economic jihad”. Several right-wing organizations also called for a boycott of restaurants serving halal meat during Navratri and Ugadi festivals.

Ahead of Diwali, right-wing organizations staged protests outside multinational food chains such as KFC and McDonald’s, demanding that non-Muslims not be served halal-certified meat.

The Congress has claimed that the ban on halal is a strategy by the BJP to divert attention from their misrule and the real problems of the state, which will face assembly elections next year.

Karnataka experienced turmoil earlier this year when the state government banned girl students from wearing the hijab in educational institutions. The High Court upheld the ban and the case then went to the Supreme Court.

In October, the Supreme Court issued a split ruling, with one judge ruling that the state is allowed to enforce uniforms in schools and another describing the hijab as an option.

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