Anyone selling fish and meat in Dehu village will be subject to a fine of up to ₹25,000, said a circular issued by the Nagar Panchayat on April 1.
The rule, which will take effect immediately, any hotel or business selling cooked or raw meat will be fined ₹5,000 at first instance and ₹25,000 thereafter. The rule only extends to city limits, officials said.
Dehu is an important pilgrimage site in Maharashtra and is the birthplace of Sant Tukaram, one of the renowned poet saints of the state who lived in the 17th century.
“This is the birthplace of Maharaj Tukaram and he spread non-violence. So in his hometown the killing of animals should not take place. If anyone is found selling chicken and mutton, he or she will be fined ₹5,000 in first instance and in second instance, the fine will be ₹25,000,” said Smita Chavan, president of the Dehu nagar panchayat.
“Those who want to eat [non vegetarian food] can do it at home and the meat will be available outside the city limits,” she added.
“Since Warkaris from all over the country visit the holy site, we don’t want to hurt their feelings and we have banned the sale of meat and fish within the city limits. People who want to eat non-vegetarian food can get it from stores outside the city limits,” said Dr. Prashant Jadhav, chief executive of Dehu City Council.
The Warkaris are pilgrims to the deity Vitthal, of whom Sant Tukaram was a devotee.
Atiq Shaikh, a restaurant owner in Dehu, said the majority of his customers are vegetarians. “Most people ask for vegetarian food. The demand for non-vegetarian foods is less. Many people prefer to eat meat at home.
Many fish vendors set up their shops as usual on Friday and city council officials ordered them to place their stalls outside the city limit which is two miles away.
A similar rule was in place from 1999 to 2004, but was dropped by the gram panchayat.