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Tuesday, 27 March, 2001, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
Indian town chops meat
Street food
Many Indians are vegetarians
By Ayanjit Sen in Delhi

The authorities in the northern Indian town of Palwal have banned the sale of meat to encourage vegetarianism and spiritualism.

They say the decision would improve the health of the town's residents.

Vegetable market
A move to encourage vegetarianism
But meat traders are opposing the ban and say it will create unemployment.

This is perhaps the first time when a local body in India has taken an unusual decision to discourage meat-eating.

Palwal is in the northern Indian state of Haryana and about 70 km from Delhi.

Local officials have closed down all shops selling meat in the town in a move to "promote vegetarian food" which "leads to healthy living".

Spirituality

The chairwoman of the 25 member Palwal municipal committee, Khuban Devi, told the BBC the decision will promote vegetarianism among the 150,000 residents of the town.

She said that people who eat vegetarian food attain a high degree of spirituality.

Meat shop
Meat-sellers are up in arms
Mrs Devi alleged the shops which used to sell meat in this town threw a lot of rubbish around them which could have caused diseases.

However, she said people would be allowed to buy meat in neighbouring towns.

Protest

The ban is likely to affect meat traders and restaurant owners.

The meat-sellers, who are generally poor Muslims and low-caste Hindus, are protesting against the decision.

A local hotel federation representative, Suresh Chutani, said the ban was wrong and was only going to create unemployment in the town.

A local meat-seller alleged that the ban was politically motivated.

The traders have filed a court case against this decision.

Hindu groups in the country often protest against the sale of meat and the slaughter of animals for consumption.

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05 Jul 00 | Health
Nutritionist sparks red meat row
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