A delegation of top Jain religious leaders met Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday and drew curtains on the controversy over meat ban in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra during the ongoing Paryushan festival.
“As far as Shiv Sena is concerned, this controversy has ended. But we must find out how it all started and who is responsible for it?” Thackeray told media persons briefly after the meeting held at his home ‘Matoshree’ in Bandra East in the afternoon.
He pointed out that all these years, during Paryushan — the Jains’ holy festival of abstention – meat has always been banned in the city and there were no complaints from any quarters.
“Then, suddenly what happened this year? How has it erupted into this controversy and who is behind it all?” Thackeray wondered, after the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation banned slaughter of animals and sale of meat in the city for four days.
Following a public outcry from most political parties, including the Shiv Sena, the BMC climbed down and reduced the ban to two days.
Nevertheless, signalling that the party’s stance remains unchanged on the issue, Thackeray made it clear that people of all faiths – Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Jains – ust observe their religion within the limits of their homes.
“Nobody must enforce their religious tenets on the people of other faiths and keep it to the confines of their respective homes,” Thackeray said.
He pointed out that India is a multi-religious country with people from different faiths, it can become strong and prosper only if they all live unitedly without imposing their beliefs on each other.
Sunday’s meeting, organised by diamond merchant and film producer Bharat Shah, came in the wake of a hunger strike launched by Jain monks in adjoining Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation area in Thane district, where the civic body imposed an eight-day ban on meat.
The move was replicated in parts by the BMC, Navi Mumbai, Nashik and other civic bodies, leading to massive public outcry and earning the displeasure of the Bombay High Court last week, while some Jain leaders retaliated and hit out at the ban opponents.
The Shiv Sena and its rival Maharashtra Navnirman Sena led by Raj Thackeray protested here last week by selling mutton, chicken and fish on the days of the meat ban, challenging the authorities to take action against them.