Fear of dog and cat meat being served in restaurants gripped the people of West Bengal ever since the Kolkata police seized 20 tonnes of rotten meat suspected to be of dead animals.

The state, which has a sizeable number of non-vegetarian lovers, witnessed a sharp fall in the sale of meat of any kind ever since reports of the massive seizure came out. Adding to that are fears that the meat seized consisted of rotten carcasses of dogs and other animals from various parts of the state.

In a major raid conducted in Rajabazar area on Thursday, 26 April, Police found around 20 tonnes of rotten meat ready to be shipped to restaurants and other meat sellers in the state and outside.

On Saturday, 28 April, the Police said that the sellers of the rotten meat were using chemicals such as formalin, calcium propanoate, aluminium sulphate and lead sulphate to remove the unbearable stench of the meat.

“First they would wash the meat with formalin. Then they separated the fat from the meat to arrest rotting and inject calcium propanoate (as a food additive). After that, it was mixed with aluminium sulphate and lead sulphate to get rid of the foul smell and then packed and supplied to different markets and restaurants,” an officer said.

According to reports, 10 people, including a leader of a political outfit, have been arrested in connection with the case.

The police believe that the meat was supplied to sellers of frozen food items, eateries, and departmental stores in the state and its neighbouring areas in Jharkhand, Odisha and Bihar. They also suspect that the meat may have been also been supplied to Nepal.

People of the state were in for a shock when they learned that the meat sellers used the carcasses of dead animals lying in a dumping ground for meat, which they mixed with regular meat.

Reports say that carcasses of dogs and cats are among the carcasses that can be found in the dumping ground near Budge Budge, one of the places from where the culprits obtained the meat.

The West Bengal government has directed all police stations in the metropolis and the districts to keep a watch on the sale of meat in their areas, officials said.