Several groups from Nagaland have attacked Union Minister Maneka Gandhi over a move to ban consumption of dog meat in the Northeast.
Dog meat is a delicacy among many Naga tribes in Nagaland and adjoining States as well as some communities in Mizoram.
In a letter to DoNER Minister Jitendra Singh a few days ago, Gandhi cited the Food Safety and Standards Regulation Act, 2011, that does not allow dogs, cats and other animals to be slaughtered for food. She said consumption of dog meat was both illegal and cruel.
But Nagas say Gandhi has no business telling them what they cannot eat or wield rules that are not applicable in Nagaland.
‘Indian laws, related to religion or food habits, cannot be imposed in Nagaland because the state’s special status ensures preservation of social customs. We have been eating dog meat, as therapy too, for generations and we cannot stop eating now just because someone feels we should not,’ Chuba Ozukum, President of Nagaland’s apex social organisation Naga Hoho, said.
Nagas, he added, will oppose strongly if the ban on sale and consumption of dog meat is imposed.
Fearing public backlash, the Nagaland government went slow on a legal notice that an Assam-based petitioner had sent in March against illegal trade of dogs for consumption. Though the demand for dog meat is high — a kilo sells for Rs 300-500 depending on availability — the animal is not farmed for consumption. The dogs for most kitchens and ethnic restaurants are thus smuggled from neighbouring states, mainly Assam.