Over 200 Shiv Sena activists on Tuesday took to the streets in Gurugram to force over 300 meat shops to shut down for Navratri — a nine-day festival observed by Hindus across the country.
The Gurgaon Sector 14 branch of KFC, the popular fast food chain, was also forced to shut shop for the duration of the festival. Shiv Sena members also want meat shops in Gurugram to remain shut every Tuesday.
"A number of Hindus keep fast on Navratri and on Tuesdays. It does not feel good to see meat being sold and served on these days. Most shopkeepers have supported the move and we consulted those who resisted," Ritu Raj, general secretary and spokesperson of the Shiv Sena, told the media, adding that the shops, most of which he claims were "illegal", were not shut down "all of a sudden" but that notices had been sent over a period of three days.
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"Usually the shopkeepers close their stores themselves during this season, but last year we noticed a lot of them did not do so. So we ran this campaign," Raj further added.
He also said that the Sena conducted the drive on Tuesday "to ensure they complied with the request".
The Sena also served notices to hotels, dhabas and eateries that serve non-vegetarian food to keep their shops closed during Navratri.
However, most meat shop owners are not too happy with the Shiv Sena move, and may approach the police against the forced shutting down of their shops.
"We had no option but to close down because of the sheer strength of the opposite side. We will hold a meeting tomorrow and decide on the course of action. We may even file a police complaint regarding the matter," one meat shop owner told the Indian Express.
Gurugram Commissioner of Police told CNN-News18: "We have not received any complaint so far. If we get a formal complaint, we will take action as per law. No coercion will be allowed in the city. Our teams are on the ground. If they notice any such thing, or they are informed about forceful shutdown of meat shops then action will be taken."
Meat sellers, butchers meet UP minister Siddharth Nath Singh
A delegation of meat sellers and butchers submitted a memorandum to Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh on Tuesday a week after the Yogi Adityanath-led government announced crackdown on illegal and mechanised slaughterhouses across the state. Several abattoirs were shut down due to the order.
Following the crackdown, meat-sellers and butchers across the state went on an indefinite strike to protest against Adityanath's order.
The crackdown on illegal and mechanised abattoirs has affected the livelihood of over 25 lakh people associated with the industry.
"We informed the minister about hardships we are facing. Thousands of people have become jobless. Many poor people are struggling for food. We asked him to ensure that the civic bodies start renewing licences that have expired and urged him to identify places where animals can be slaughtered until modern slaughterhouses are developed," Umar Chaudhary, general secretary of All-India Jamiatul Quresh (AIMQ), was quoted by the Indian Express as saying.
"The minister said he will discuss our issues with officers and get back in two or three days. We will continue with our strike until a permanent solution is found," Shahabuddin Quraishi, general secretary of the Lucknow-based Quraish Welfare Foundation said.
Iqbal Qureshi, president of Meat-Murga Vyapari Kalyan Samiti, said that they were ready to obey the order issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) but "the government should have given us notice for some time before initiating the closure. If we were not able to comply, then the authorities could have closed our establishments".
Meat-sellers against harassment by police and local goons
Iftikhar Quraish, member of the AIMQ, was quoted by the Hindustan Times as saying that "we are not against the drive against illegal meat or cow slaughter, but the injustice being done to our community in its [campaign's] name". Many traders, especially those in rural areas, have accused the state police and the local goons of harassment since the crackdown was ordered.
Md Salman, a meat trader, said: "We have to give as much as Rs1,000 per animal to the policemen who stop our vehicles on the way to the slaughterhouse. The cops ask for money even if we show them proper documentation." Meat shop owners have also accused local goons of targeting them.
"They accuse us of selling cow meat and create a ruckus. If we refuse to pay, they lodge false report and our meat is seized," Usman Quraishi, a meat shop owner who sells buffalo meat in Faridpur, told HT.
Around seven incidents of harassment have been reported in the district since last week. Even though the police has filed complaints, senior police officials have denied that the situation is rampant.