If you’ve been born and brought up in India or if you’ve been following the news about the lynchings taking place in various states, you’ll know how much we love our cows. And in case you haven’t, just know this that cows are considered to be highly sacred in Hinduism and are referred by many as ‘mother’. So, you can imagine the absolute horror when a Hindu man learnt that he had eaten beef.
According to Stuff, Jaswinder Paul had bought a package labelled as lamb roast from Countdown Blenheim in September. However, when he cooked and ate it, he realised that it was actually beef. He said,
“According to my religion, I have to go back to my country and do sacred things for four to six weeks, and be purified by priests, so I can continue on my religious path. It’s a long process.”
As Paul would’ve to close his shop, Headmaster Barbers, to travel abroad, costing him his income, he wanted Countdown to pay for his trip. He said that his family had not talked to him ever since he ate the beef.
A Countdown spokeswoman reached out to Paul in September itself and apologised for the mix-up. She said,
“Unfortunately, in September last year, an error with our in-store labelling resulted in a pack of our beef mince being sold with both beef and lamb labels, which was incorrect and obviously very confusing.”
She further added that,
“We’re deeply sorry that this happened. We very much appreciate and respect Mr Paul’s beliefs and certainly, there was no intent to incorrectly label the product.”
Countdown replaced the product and even offered Paul a gift voucher of $200. However, he declined it.
Several months passed by after that altercation and there was no response from Paul. Then, he finally turned up on February 27th demanding for a trip to India. But since Countdown stood by their earlier gesture, Paul said that he would seek compensation through the courts. He stated,
“I don’t want to go to court against a big corporation. I just want to go home. I understand this looks like a simple matter, but for me, this is very hard. I break my religion [vows] because of someone else’s negligence. I know my society back from my home will not accept me with this breach of the religion’s conditions.”
Nelson-based Hindu priest Bishnu Adhikari said that it’s true that Hindus aren’t allowed to eat beef because they believe that the cow represents “a mother or a leadership figure.” He added that Paul could seek guidance at the Hare Krishna Temple in Wellington.
The Stuff reported that he’s been accused of underpaying vulnerable workers by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).
Apparently, Paul had hired seven employees through his company R.K.K. Enterprises, who were subcontracted to work at Stokesay Vineyard. However, ERA member Christine Hickey found out that Paul was underpaying them and taking advantage of “vulnerable” workers on transient visas, with some of having poor English skills and no understanding of their rights.
In November 2018, the ERA had ordered Paul to pay more than $20,000 in penalties and unpaid wages to vineyard workers who had been paid less than half of the minimum wage. Paul said that while R.K.K Enterprises belonged to him, he had closed it and moved onto Headmaster Barbers in Blenheim.
Given how Paul was expected to pay his ex-workers and the meat mix-up occurred in September, is there a possibility of a connection between the two incidents? Let us know in the comments.