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Communalism

Rajasthan: BJP MLA Who Shut Down Meat Shops a Day After Election Win Apologises

Videos of the MLA's heated exchange with municipal officials and police went viral.

New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Balmukund Acharya who went around his constituency shutting down shops selling non-vegetarian food a day after being elected as an MLA in Rajasthan has apologised for his actions.

A cleric of Jaipur’s Hathoj Dham, the godman was elected from Hawa Mahal constituency.

Acharya swung into action on Monday (December 4) even before he was sworn-in and ordered shops selling non-vegetarian products to be shut down, alleging that they were spreading ‘diseases’. Butchers in the area are mostly Muslim, the Telegraph reported.

Videos of his heated exchange with municipal officials and police went viral. On Tuesday, Acharya apologised.

“Smoke and foul smell emanate in the open. Those who abstain from this have a problem. I only requested [the officials]. They say I spoke loudly. I have a sore throat… That’s why I spoke that way,” Acharya clarified, adding that he only requested the officials to ensure that the food was covered.

“If anyone felt bad, I apologise. This was not for any particular category [of people]…. I am working according to respected PM Modiji’s vision. We want everyone’s support, trust and collective development of all,” the BJP MLA said.

However, poultry sellers were seen shutting their shops on Monday after Acharya and his supporters asked the police to shut down the shops in the neighbourhood.

He also called up an unidentified official in front of TV cameras and said, “Can non-veg be sold openly on the road? Answer yes or no. So, you support this. All roadside non-veg stalls should be shut down immediately. I will take the report from you in the evening. I don’t care who the officer is.” The conversation ended with his supporters chanting ‘Jai Shree Ram’, a popular Hindutva slogan often used for establishing religious superiority.

The People’s Union of Civil Liberties said in a statement: “There is no mention of veg and non-veg in the Street Vendors Act. There is a rule to create vending zones and provide security to street vendors by constituting a town vending committee. Till now, the town vending committee has not provided protection to the vendors. Licences have not been given to vendors and vending zones have also not been identified. In such a situation, a newly elected MLA taking the law into his hands and threatening meat shops and non-veg street vendors is a matter of great concern.”

“This is unheard of in Rajasthan. It seems like the MLA’s individual bravado rather than a planned action. My sense is that he was pulled up by senior leaders,” Jaipur-based political analyst Sunny Sebastian told the Telegraph.