Despite the fact that two Assamese chefs, Santa Sarma and Nayanjyoti Saikia, have made it to the finals of MasterChef India 7, many people in other parts of the country still hold the backward notion that Assamese people eat dogs. This is a complete myth, and it is important to set the record straight. While it is true that dog meat is consumed in some parts of the Northeast, such as Nagaland and Mizoram, it is not a common practice in Assam or any other Northeast state.
Unfortunately, this myth was recently perpetuated by a proposal made by a Maharashtra legislator, Bachchu Kadu, who suggested that stray dogs be sent to Assam to control their population. During a session of the Maharashtra Assembly, Kadu also made the unfounded claim that locals in Assam consume dogs.
This proposal was met with outrage from animal rights activists in Assam, who condemned Kadu's suggestion as "inhumane and outrageous." Sashanka Sekhar Dutta of the Just Be Friendly (JBF) Trust in India, which runs a hospital for pets and a mortuary for dogs near Guwahati, called for action to be taken against Kadu.
"We request Assam Chief Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, and all national organizations to take necessary steps on this issue. The ministry concerned should also take it up as a dog is not listed as a food animal," Dutta said.
Members of the People For Animals (PFA) also criticized Kadu's insensitive comment, calling it an insult to the legislature. The animal welfare community in Assam has come together to condemn the myth that Assamese people eat dogs and to demand that their state be treated with the respect it deserves.
The myth and the belief that people from Assam and the Northeast have a penchant for consuming dog meat is a gross generalization and stereotype that has been perpetuated for decades, without any basis in fact. While it is true that dog meat is consumed in certain parts of the region, it is not a common practice and certainly not a reflection of the eating habits of the entire population.
The reality is that Assam and the Northeast are home to a rich and varied cuisine that is reflective of the region's diverse cultural heritage. From bamboo shoot pickles to fish curries and smoked meat, the food of this region is as diverse as its people.
Unfortunately, the myth about dog meat consumption has led to negative stereotypes about people from the Northeast, who are often portrayed as barbaric and uncivilized. This has led to discrimination and prejudice against people from the region, who are often subject to racial slurs and violence.
In 2020, the issue gained national attention when a controversy erupted over the consumption of dog meat in Nagaland. While the Nagaland government clarified that the practice was not widespread and that they had banned the sale and consumption of dog meat, the damage had already been done.
The myth has also sparked outrage among many Assamese people who feel that it portrays their culture and cuisine in a negative light. In 2021, when an Indian Air Force official claimed that dog meat was being served in a canteen in Assam, there was a massive backlash from the Assamese community. They called for an apology and demanded that the official be punished for spreading misinformation.
The myth about dog-eating habits in Assam and the Northeast is a damaging and untrue stereotype that continues to persist. While it is essential to address the issue, it is equally crucial to recognize and celebrate the rich and diverse culture and cuisine of the region, which goes far beyond this myth.
The people of Assam have been vocal in their opposition to this myth and the discrimination it has engendered. Several organizations and individuals have spoken out against the false notion that people from the Northeast consume dog meat, and have demanded an end to the negative stereotypes that have been perpetuated.
While Assam and the Northeast are home to a rich and varied cuisine, the myth about dog meat consumption continues to be a source of discrimination and prejudice against the people of the region. It is important to challenge and debunk such myths, and to celebrate the diversity and complexity of the culture and cuisine of this beautiful part of the country.
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