A notification of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been sent to all food safety commissioners, which states that camels cannot be slaughtered for meat. The FSSAI Regulations, 2011 do not define camel meat as food. Animals that come into the definition of Meat and Meat products are Ovines (sheep), Bovines (ox and cow including buffalo), Caprines (goats or goat-antelopes) and Suillines (pig family) besides poultry and fish. There is no mention of camels either as meat or as meat food product.
Based on this notification, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has written to all state governments to ensure that camels are not slaughtered on the occasion of Bakrid. They state that under sub heading 2.5 of the FSSAI regulations, that deal with Meat and Meat products, camels are not mentioned anywhere. The Nature Conservation Society, which is an environmental group, say that camel slaughter is a recent trend but has now become popular.
The practice of slaughtering camels on the night before Bakrid is prevalent in some cities in Tamil Nadu. Camels are bought for a hefty sum of Rs.1.50, 000 from Kankrauli, Udaipur or Raj Nagar in Rajasthan. They are not taken to slaughter houses but are sacrificed after reciting prayers at wedding halls or other areas specially hired for this festive occasion. The AWBI letter also states that all animals must be slaughtered only in slaughter houses as per regulations.
The Imam of the Al Ameen Colony mosque, Abu Bakr, is also of the opinion that goats or cows should be sacrificed. Slaughtering a camel is something that is being imitated from Saudi Arabia, where camels are free to be slaughtered. He along with some other Imams are of the view that, as camel sacrifices are not specific to Islam but cows and goats serve the purpose equally. The Imam is of the opinion that camel slaughter is only being carried out to impress as it has no religious connotations.
The Tamil Nadu Director General of Police has denied receiving such a letter and says he is not aware if it has been sent to the commissioner. The state authorities are being cautious in preventing camel slaughter as they would not like to hurt religious sentiments.