On January 12, around 500 kg of rotten ‘Tsunami chicken’ kept for distribution to halal hotels was seized from Ernakulam. The rotten meat was confiscated from a rented house at Kaipadamugal near the defunct Kalamassery HMT Machine Tools Ltd. 150 kg of stale oil that looked like bitumen used in road construction was also seized during the inspection.
Both were used to make Arabic dishes like Shawarma, Alfaham and Mandi and distributed to various halal hotels in and around the city. Local residents no longer able to bear the stench of rotting flesh intimated the authorities, following which they were forced into action. The unlicensed establishment belonged to Junais, a native of Mannarkkad on the Malappuram-Palakkad border.
The stale meat was found during the inspection conducted by the Kalamassery Municipality Health Department. Officials who inspected the freezer said it smelled terrible as soon as it was opened. They claimed that this meat was bought and transported from Tamil Nadu. The entire stock was rotten.
Five non-Keralite employees were present at the time of the raid, but none of the managers or the owner were present. It is believed that corrupt health dept employees tipped them about the raid, but the owner did not have enough time to inform his employees to escape the crime scene.
Cut pieces and whole chicken were stored in plastic bags in three chest freezers. Only one freezer had an electrical connection. Spices were added to cooked meat on the bare floor. This was then loaded onto meat-holding rods and distributed. The meat seized had begun to rot, and flies were circling.
Kalamassery Circle Food Safety Officer M N Shamsia collected samples for testing. To allegedly save the halal mafia, such test results are never made public voluntarily.
Only Muslims are employed in shops that handle meat in Kerala. Such shady firms also have a habit of hiring non-Bharatiya Bangladeshis and Rohingyas with fake credentials. It allegedly helps owners avoid prosecution since once such employees are bailed out, they are as good as gone forever.
Health department officials and the local councilor claimed ignorance and said they did not know how such vast quantities of meat were stored and distributed without a food license. Officials said the seized meat would be destroyed, and the establishment operators would be fined heavily. Corporation vehicles transported the stale chicken to the Brahmapuram waste disposal facility. The Kerala government does not even have a protocol to dispose of such confiscated maggot-infested meat.
Earlier, there were multiple reports that low-priced stale meat was arriving for distribution to various hotels across the state. Since the past year, meat from Junais’s establishment has been supplied to numerous eateries. Employees informed officials that the same rotten meat was delivered to various hotels in Kochi on the morning of the raid. They were not confiscated.
The illegal unit at Kaipadamugal was sealed, and a notice informing that trespassers would face action under the Kerala Municipal Act was affixed. As protests grew, officials of the Department of Food Safety and the Health wing of the municipality claimed they would conduct a joint inspection to capture the culprits.
At the same time, the Kalamassery Municipality sought the help of the police to track down Junais. A.K. Nishad, chair of the Health Standing Committee, sent a letter to the Kalamassery Station House Officer to find restaurants using expired meat supplied by Junais.
A municipal council meeting was planned on January 16 to discuss follow-up action after the seizure of stale meat and unsafe food from the erring outlets. Political analysts say that such negligence shows that local politicians do not place a high premium on the well-being of the residents. A majority of Kalamassery councilors are from the so-called minority communities.
Tsunami Meat Menace
Tsunami chickens are those birds that die of diseases but are sold from bird farms. Allegedly, the halal mafia procures them at a low price. Authorities not checking whether it is dead or slaughtered helps this mafia.
Many years back vigorous checks were introduced to curb the tsunami meat trade, but the halal mafia has ensured that inspections have ceased. The situation was so bad that the sale of shawarma was banned in 2012, but it somehow bounced back. This time around, the green communist government is not even contemplating a blanket ban.
Tsunami chicken is cooked and served in bakeries and restaurants. In Kerala, a major chunk of the Arabic food industry allegedly thrives on this illegal trade. Many such eateries were allegedly owned by Popular Front of India (PFI) terrorists. They were easily recognizable from their black and yellow signboards and some shut down recently.
With the expansion of Arabic food eateries selling Shawarma, Alfaham, and Mandi in the cities, the demand for chicken meat also increased. When the price of chicken meat rose daily, some owners turned to Tsunami meat which is available at half the price. Still, chicken prices are not falling, and food prices are rising.
Authorities claim that diseased, dead chickens are allegedly transported to Kerala, mainly from Tamil Nadu. This is also how Avian influenza or Bird Flu reaches Kerala. This month, Bird flu has been confirmed in Alappuzha, Kottayam, Thiruvananthapuram, and Kozhikode. It is most often contracted by contact with sick birds, is highly contagious, and is passed from person to person.
Tsunami meat is in demand as it costs less than 50 rupees per kg. It crosses the Tamil Nadu border by train and other means to avoid border checks. Wholesale distributors like Junais stock them at consolidated sales centers and distribute them to restaurants and snack manufacturing units. There are hundreds of similar illegal unlicensed outlets all over Kerala.
The Tsunami chicken mafia operates from isolated single houses. The meat arrives after dark and is delivered to the eateries before dawn. It then reaches citizens through hotels, roadside eateries, and bakeries. Corrupt officials also support this.
Though the Health and Food Safety Department know about such centers, activists allege that they avoid checks and are handsomely rewarded. Anyway, such operations do not have licenses. Authorities reluctantly arrive only when locals complain. They might even conduct farce tests in many places and allegedly return with a bribe. Experts fear this happened in Kalamassery, where the municipal health department seized 487 kg of rotting and stinking chicken meat.
Even as food poisoning from maggot-infested meat sold as halal wrecks havoc across Kerala, authorities refuse to punish the perpetrators. Meanwhile, politicians tried hard to justify the sale of stale meat by blaming other ingredients like mayonnaise, online ordering services, and even the media that reported the same. Such halal defenders and state employees allegedly stand to earn more during times of crisis.
Reporters associated with Asianet News, who are serial halal protectors, claimed that ‘suppliers from Tamil Nadu were to blame’ for the availability of Tsunami chicken in Kerala. They further added that most halal hotels had rented their Arabic food stalls to ‘cooks from north Bharat’. The aim is to deflect the allegations away from local hotel owners with zero morality onto others – with the much-derided ‘cow belt’ of the North being an easy punching bag.
Food poisoning has become a social evil, and many Keralites now avoid halal hotels like the plague. How authorities and elected members have responded is a story that HinduPost will try and cover in another article.
Hindus at Risk?
As for Hindus, we don’t have enough hotels to cater to our needs in Kerala. Non-Hindus run even many vegetarian outlets. This is also why many are forced to return to the same restaurants that sold Tsunami chicken to their customers once the controversy subsides.
Brave Hindu ladies like Thushara Ajith Kallayil, who did come forward to open Nandhus non-halal hotels, were assaulted and are nowhere to be seen. Even the politicians who supported them are now quiet.
Some Hindus that HinduPost spoke to claimed that ‘halal is better’! Experts opined that it happens when a lie is continuously drilled into their minds. When asked why our ancestors were healthier and lived well into the 80s (consuming jhatka meat), they don’t have an answer. Like hijab, halal came to Kerala around the 1990s only. There was no halal before that.
New organizations like jhataka.org are trying to revive the practice of eating healthy, hygienic and relatively painless jhataka meat, but government intervention is needed on a mass scale.
There are allegations that Tsunami meat is sold only to non-Muslims. In most recent food poisoning cases arising from consumption of this meat, victims have been almost entirely Hindu, and food poisoning cases are rarely reported from Muslim-majority Malappuram. Most Arabic food outlets have two separate meat-holding rods – is one meant for the ‘believers’ and other for ‘non-believers’, ask activists? When one orders online (zomato, uber, etc.), the customer’s identity flashes. When a Hindu visits a hotel, her bindi/ his tilak reveals their identity.
On 2 January, Rasmi Rajan (33), a native of Kottayam Kiliroor and a nursing officer at Kottayam Medical College Hospital, died after consuming chicken Alfaham bought from Malappuram Kuzhimandi restaurant, right in the middle of Kottayam town. On 20 December, nine-year-old Khyati Singh died after dining on a chicken Mandi near Kozhikode NIT. In May last year, 16-year-old Devananda Naryanana, who had eaten chicken shawarma from Kannur, died in Kasargod. All of them died of food poisoning.
Authorities quickly tried to blame ‘other causes’ for these deaths. Not a single owner was arrested. Who were they protecting, and more importantly, why? Hindu leaders pointed out that they were shielding the halal mafia. Interestingly, this did not stop many Hindus from continuing to frequent these biryani/shawarma joints.