The Kolkata meat scandal appears to have taken a major toll on the appetite of non-vegetarians for restaurant and outside food in the city of joy. And you can’t blame the consumers for this sudden shift in preference. According to reports, the seizure of 20,000 kg of rotten meat — suspected to be of dead animals and sourced from dumping grounds — by the state government last week from a cold-storage in Rajabazar area of the state capital is the reason behind this dip in appetite. For, reports claim that this huge chunk of seized meat was meant for supplying to restaurants, eateries and departmental stores in areas of West Bengal as well as neighbouring Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha. Police officials have even claimed that meat may have been supplied to international markets such as Nepal and Bangladesh.
Arrests and subsequent revelations
So far, the state police have arrested 10 people, including a leader of a political outfit, in connection with the case. Several teams have been deployed in greater Kolkata and outside West Bengal to trace the culprits involved in the business of selling meat of dead animals. “We are conducting raids to get hold of the culprits involved in the incident. Officers all over the district have been alerted to keep a tab on those who are involved in selling meat of dead animals,” SP (Diamond Harbour) Koteshwar Rao said.
The police suspect that as many as five influential individuals acted as middlemen in the racket. “These individuals are scattered in different parts of the state including others in the neighbouring states. We are trying to establish the chain. The racket seems to be quite an organised one,” he said.
Earlier, the police said that the alleged mastermind of the racket, Sonny Malik, was held from Bihar’s Nawada district on April 25. The major breakthrough had come following the arrest of a former councillor from Kalyani. 62-year-old Manik Mukherjee had retired from the Multidisciplinary Training Centre in Gayeshpur two years ago. “Mukherjee would provide information of carcass locations to the people involved in the racket. The Multidisciplinary Training Centre, earlier known as the Carcass Recovery Training Centre, is a central institute under Khadi and Village Industry Commission (KVIC). We are verifying all angles,” said SP Rao.
Mamata Banerjee government takes cognisance
Apart from Kolkata and state police, the state enforcement branch has also started a probe into the matter simultaneously. Currently, the state consumer affairs department is preparing a detailed report on the matter. Consumer Affairs Minister Sadhan Pandey said. “We are chalking out a detailed report on this matter. Once it is complete, we will submit it to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee”. The West Bengal government has directed all police stations in the metropolis and the districts to keep a watch on the sale of meat in their areas, officials said.
A slump in meat sales in eateries
Most of the residents of West Bengal are fond of non-veg cuisine. However, that spirit has been dampened by the development. The sale of chicken, mutton, and pork has taken a dip. According to prominent restaurant owners, the customers are preferring fish, prawn over meat, according to a Times of India report. Hotel and Restaurants’ Association of Eastern India (HRAEI) has asked eateries’ owners to only purchase meat from registered suppliers.