The northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has banned the production, storage, distribution and sale of halal food products with immediate effect, with the exception of products manufactured for export.
The state government, which is run by extreme right-wing Hindutva ideologues, says the comprehensive ban is effective immediately after its announcement on November 19.
The decision was taken after a meeting between Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and senior officials, a few hours after an official spokesperson said that the halal tag was being exploited to spread “propaganda” and manipulate “religious sentiment.”
Further justifying the measure, the authorities asserted that certain “anti-national elements” exploit halal certification for “unfair financial benefits” and alleged that it is being used as a tool for the “Islamification of the nation.”
Additionally, authorities claimed that halal certification is neither required nor recognised by government rules related to food, drugs, and cosmetics.
And accusing some organisations of exploiting religious sentiments for sales through inauthentic halal certificates, a police report was filed in Lucknow Commissionerate on November 17.
Specifically, they accused Halal India Private Limited Chennai, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust Delhi, Halal Council of India Mumbai, Jamiat Ulama Maharashtra, and others of exploiting religious sentiments to boost sales by providing halal certificates to customers of a specific religion.
The accused entities denied the allegations, emphasising the voluntary nature of halal certification services.
“Those who do not want to use such products are free not to use them,” said Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust, a prominent organisation that provides certification services according to the government’s standards and regulations.
In India, halal certificates are provided by the Halal Certification Bodies (HCBs). Some of the widely recognized HCBs in India are: Halal India Private Limited, Halal Certification Services India Private Limited, Jamiat Ulama-E-Maharashtra – a state unit of Jamiat Ulama-E-Hind, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust.
However, the Uttar Pradesh government contends that any mention of “halal certification” on product labels constitutes falsification, and is punishable by law. As part of its crackdown, the Food Safety and Drug Administration (FSDA) on Monday raided Sahara Mall in Uttar Pradesh, inspecting items like cold drinks, meat and dry fruits.
The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, a Hundu monk, has a history of making the most extreme Islamophobic statements.
In an undated video that surfaced on YouTube during August 2014, Adityanath referring to religious conversions caused by inter-religious marriages, said: “If they take one Hindu girl, we will take 100 Muslim girls.” In the same video, he continued: “If they kill one Hindu, there will be 100 that we” and paused as the crowd shouted: “kill.”
In February 2015, Adityanath commented: “If given a chance, we will install statues of Goddess Gauri, Ganesh and Nandi in every mosque.”
And in 2020, during peaceful protests by Muslim women, he said “If they won’t understand words, they’ll understand bullets.”