Still No Official Note, Meats Shops in South, East Delhi Remain Shut on Mayors' Verbal Orders

While the meat ban itself has evoked questions on democracy and rights, a BJP MP has asked for the restriction to be imposed across the country during Navratri.

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New Delhi: In spite of the absence of an official order, reports had it that several meat shops in east and south Delhi remained shut on Tuesday, April 5, following verbal orders from the respective mayors of their civic bodies.

The mayors called for meat shops to remain shut during the Navratri period observed by a section of Hindus.

Though mayors of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) have made calls for shutting of these shops during the nine-day festival, there has been no such word from the North corporation, which like the other two is also ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

‘No need to open meat shops’

While East Delhi Mayor Shyam Sunder Aggarwal claimed that during Navratri “90% people do not consume non-vegetarian food”, his south counterpart Mukesh Suryan said there was “no need to open meat shops” during the festival as “most people do not consume non-vegetarian food” during this period.

“Most of the meat shops were closed today. Most people do not eat meat, onion-garlic during Navratra time. So keeping in view the religious sentiments of the public, there is no need to open meat shops during the Navratra festival. An order in this regard will be issued today,” Suryan told PTI on Tuesday.

Suryan’s comment that “99% of households in Delhi do not even use garlic and onion” during Navratri had earned its share of reactions on social media.

Suryan in a letter to SDMC Commissioner Gyanesh Bharti on Monday had said that “religious beliefs and sentiments of devotees are affected” when they come across meat shops or “have to bear the foul smell of meat on their way to offer daily prayers to goddess Durga.”

Meat shops will not be allowed to open from Tuesday during Navratri till April 11, he had said, and asked the municipal commissioner to ensure strict adherence of his directives.

Aggarwal also asked to traders to keep meat shops closed during Navratra in view of “religious sentiments” of the community.

“I held a meeting today with senior officials, and in keeping with the religious sentiments of people, have appealed to traders to keep meat shops closed during Navratra, or at least on the last three days of the festival,” he said.

The East Delhi mayor said, every year on the last three days of Navratri, the Ghazipur slaughterhouse is closed, and this year it will be closed on April 8-10.

“So, it means if anyone is selling meat (of buffalo or goat) in this period, it would be either stale or slaughtering done through illegal means. So, I have ordered that 16 teams be formed to keep a very watchful eye on such traders, and take actions accordingly,” Aggarwal said.

“Actions will include seizure of meat or imposition of challan or even revoking if license or sealing of shops, as per the situation,” he said.

Shops down shutters fearing repercussions

Meat shops in several markets in south Delhi, including at INA and at Jor Bagh, remained shut on Tuesday, fearing action by authorities.

There are around 40 meat shops in the INA market, and some owners said that the decision to keep shops closed was taken after Suryan’s remarks.

“The (meat) shops at the INA market are closed fearing action by authorities. Yesterday, the SDMC mayor announced in the media that strict action will be taken against those opening shops during Navratri. We have decided among ourselves to close our shops for today,” Sanjay Kumar, manager at Bombay Fish Shop, said.

“Owners decided to keep shops closed as the mayor has threatened serious actions against them,” Kumar claimed, adding that they are yet to decide whether they will keep shops closed till Navratri ends.

Kamal, co-owner of Pigpo meat shop in Jor Bagh, said he had opened the shop in the morning but after learning about the mayor’s statement, decided to close it.

“We opened the shop in the morning but have shut it after we got to know that shops in nearby markets are closed,” Kamal said.

This is the first time when the civic body has asked for the closure of meat shops under its jurisdiction during Navratri which is being observed from April 2-11.

BJP leader amps call amidst opposition and others’ criticism 

As the move triggered sharp reactions on social media, BJP MP Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma said such a restriction should be imposed all over the country during Navratri celebrations.

Verma is known to make comments against Muslims. During the Shaheen Bagh protests of 2019 against the Citizenship Amendment Act, he had called the protesters “rapists and murderers”

Meanwhile, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah hit out at the SDMC mayor, tweeting, “During Ramzan we don’t eat between sunrise and sunset. I suppose it’s OK if we ban every non-Muslim resident or tourist from eating in public, especially in the Muslim dominated areas. If majoritarianism is right for South Delhi, it has to be right for J&K (Jammu and Kashmir).”

Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra also tweeted against the ban.

“I live in South Delhi. The Constitution allows me to eat meat when I like and the shopkeeper the freedom to run his trade. Full stop,” she said.

Several on social media panned the move, many expressing that it is ridiculous

(With PTI inputs)