By Arré Bench Nov. 30, 2020
Nearly four months after the Nagaland government banned the commercial import and sale of dog meat, the Gauhati High Court has lifted it temporarily.
The latest to join the list of meats banned in India earlier this year was the sale of dog meat in Nagaland after much uproar. Now, the Kohima Bench of Gauhati High Court has temporarily suspended the state government’s ban that was imposed on July 2. This would mean that the commercial import, trade, and sale of dogs and dog meat in markets and restaurants in Nagaland can resume for the time being.
Dog Meat Ban: Gauhati High Court Puts Nagaland Government's Order On Hold https://t.co/P0qUXewMH7
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) November 28, 2020
While the High Court had given an opportunity to the Nagaland government to file an affidavit on September 14, the government failed to do so. However, licenced dog meat traders stepped up and challenged the ban.
Stating that the ban had adversely affected both their business and livelihood, which had only worsened due to the pandemic, the traders — licensed under the Kohima Municipal Corporation for importing dogs and selling dog meat in the state — filed a petition.
After hearing the petitioners, the court ordered the interim stay on dog meat ban earlier this week, on November 25.
The petitioners — who are dog meat traders licensed under the Kohima Municipal Council — said that their business and livelihood has been adversely affected by the ban and added to the pandemic situation prevailing in the state.https://t.co/LDoKNe7tIc
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) November 29, 2020
On July 3, Nagaland Chief Secretary Temjen Toy had tweeted the state government’s decision to ban “commercial import and trading of dogs, dog markets and also the sale of dog meat, both cooked and uncooked”. This ban was the result of animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi’s appeal to people through a tweet posted from the handle of People for Animals India, which she founded. Encouraging citizens to “protest in a civilised manner” by writing to Toy, the tweet was accompanied by a picture of incapacitated canines tied in gunny bags that went on to be widely circulated on social media platforms.
— People For Animals India (@pfaindia) June 30, 2020
The ban came into immediate effect from July 4 across Nagaland, making it the second northeastern state to ban the import and sale of dog meat. Mizoram did so back in March.
Since time immemorial, the consumption of dog meat in the northeast has remained a topic for heated debate, owing to the cultural and community practices and sentiments in and around the region.
The ban came into effect from July 4 across the State, four months after #Mizoram took a similar step. #Dogmeat is a delicacy among certain communities in the two northeastern States. https://t.co/19XpLLUYnR #Nagaland
— The Hindu (@the_hindu) November 27, 2020
In an essay published in Scroll.in, anthropologist Dolly Kikon writers, “… the moral issues connected to the consumption of dog meat in India have far-reaching consequences. Besides routine arrests of people from Northeast India who are caught killing stray dogs for consumption in metropolitan cities across India, it labels a dietary choice as disgusting and repugnant. A Naga migrant who worked in a retail store in New Delhi told me that she ate her lunch alone after she had been regularly humiliated by her colleagues about the dog eating culture in Naga society.”
And the problem remains with this generalisation that everyone in Nagaland eats dog meat. A growing number of Nagas do not consume dog meat. As Kikon adds, “Dogs mean different things in Naga society: pet, companion, food, medicine, guard, spirit sensors, thief catchers and cat chasers.” Yet, it is an old food habit among some and it needs to be recognised as that.
However, most Indians have little understanding of this and as a result the debate ensues, as was seen on social media.
One Twitter user condemned the decision, stating, “instead of banning animal cruelty you just went ahead and added another chapter to it.”
Nahhh, this country is dusted. Instead of banning animal cruelty you just went ahead and added another chapter to it.
This country deserves all that it faces and then some more. https://t.co/a2jYy3Lb8b
— Utkarsh Kr. Tripathi (@Bhartiya_Kopite) November 28, 2020
Others called for “respect” of local culture.
@TandonRaveena The idea of eating dog's meat seems cruel to me as dog is a pet closest to man, don't like beef either; but if someone's culture practices/encourages eating a dog or cow or snake I should not be objecting. Live and let live. Eat and let eat. https://t.co/wmVPNmylG0
— Postmortem of Love (@dusshool99fan) November 28, 2020
While the Kohima bench has stated that the case will be heard after the winter vacation, the rest of India has jumped to conclusions of its own.