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Illegal butchers pose health risk.

Dubai: Freelance butchers have surfaced once again to offer their services to residents who are penny-wise and pound-foolish and have little or no concern for the health risks that they might inflict on their families and colleagues.

These individuals who offer their services are not licensed and are employed as labourers. They leave their accommodation in groups from areas such as Jebel Ali, Al Quoz and Sonapur in Al Qusais and linger in and around residential areas looking for clients.

Most of their clients are bachelors who do not mind carrying out the ritual of animal sacrifice in open areas located in their neighbourhoods.

Civic bodies in Dubai and the northern emirates have issued strict warnings to residents who conduct slaughtering in residential areas. A penalty of Dh5,000 will be imposed on violators.

Gulf News caught up with a couple of freelance butchers - one in Al Nahda, Sharjah and Al Qusais, Dubai who at first were hesitant to speak, but agreed only under the condition they were not photographed.

Throwing caution to wind these freelancers keep the meat of the sacrificed animal on large plastic sheets and then start chopping according to the client's preferences. At the end of it all the carcass is left behind.

"We cover it with mud, otherwise there is always a chance we will get caught if some residents decide to lodge a complaint with the authorities," said Esmail Jang, a freelance butcher who works as a full time carpenter at a construction site.

His colleague Muneer, a Bangladeshi who was busy chopping the meat, said that they charge depending on the kind of animal. "We charge Dh25 for a goat, Dh35 to Dh40 for a sheep and Dh75 to Dh100 for a cow. Sacrificed meat is also offered to us from our clients," he said.

The freelance butchers lend their services until 2pm and then return to their accommodation for a lunch of steaming biryani.

"If our clients offer us a portion of the sacrificed animal meat, one of our colleagues rushes with it to our accommodation on his bicycle so that it can be prepared for lunch," said Muneer.

On whether they ran the risk of getting caught by the municipality inspectors or by the other authorities, Esmail said: "No, we don't get caught. It's Eid and do you think that they will have the time to come and look for us?"

Residents are not concerned about the rules imposed by the municipality. "Every Eid, the animal sacrifice is carried out by us and we do have the knowledge to figure out if an animal is sick or healthy. As for the hygiene part we wash the meat well before it is cooked," said another resident.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Dec 9, 2008
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