Panic spread across the meat industry in Uttar Pradesh as Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directed the police to start working on a plan to shut slaughterhouses across the State. He also asked officials to ensure a blanket ban on smuggling of cows and said there would be “zero tolerance” in this regard.

While the police maintained that the ban was applicable only on “illegal” slaughterhouses, there was confusion over the target of the Chief Minister’s directions; the BJP’s election manifesto specifies a ban on all mechanised slaughterhouses and illegal abattoirs.

As there was no clear instruction on which type of slaughterhouses should be closed, all sections of the meat industry — from the big exporters to small meat shop owners — were stricken with anxiety.

Uttar Pradesh houses 37 of the 75 abattoir-cum-meat processing plants approved by the Agriculture and Processed Food Product Export Development Authority (APEDA).

Haji Shahid Akhlaq of the Meerut-based Al Saquib Exports said three of his APEDA-approved meat processing units — Al Kaif, Al Aqsa, Al Yasir — have been shut by the local administration since Tuesday.

“These are 100 per cent export units. They are approved and registered. But they still shut us down,” Akhlaq told BusinessLine over the phone.

The All India Meat and Livestock Exporters Association (AIMLEA) said approved mechanised abattoirs and processing units can only be shut down if the State government brings an ordinance to this effect.

“We will move court against any such ordinance. But even that option is not yet available to us because what the government is doing is using discrepancies in the functioning of the industry to close down units,” said an office-bearer of AIMLEA, who did not wish to be identified.

Confusion over ban Confusion spread as the Lucknow Municipal Corporation sealed nine meat shops in the Mahanagar and Aliganj areas of the State Capital. There are 200-250 meat shops running illegally in the city, according to the Corporation’s estimates.

Three shops selling meat and fish were set afire in Hathras district on Tuesday night. In Ghaziabad, which borders Delhi, police sealed 10 meat shops and four slaughterhouses that were allegedly running illegally.

India is a major exporter of buffalo meat. However, the volume of livestock, especially buffalo exports, which grew 1.68 per cent between 2013-14 and 2014-15, declined by as much as 10.96 per cent in 2015-16.

Lamb meat exports declined by 5.22 per cent in 2015-16 against 11.76 per cent growth between 2013-14 and 2014-15. The only meat product that has consistently grown is poultry.