Officials Question Absence of Order as South Delhi Mayor Announces Meat Ban for Navratri

This is the first time that the civic body has asked for closure of meat shops under its jurisdiction during Navratri.

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New Delhi: Meat shops will not be allowed to remain open from Tuesday, April 5, till the period of the Hindu festival of Navratri – April 11, South Delhi Municipal Corporation Mayor Mukkesh Suryan has said.

Suryan has asked the municipal commissioner to ensure strict adherence of his directives but an official order in this connection is yet to be issued.

This is the first time that the civic body has asked for closure of meat shops under its jurisdiction during Navratri. There are around 1,500 registered meat shops in the jurisdiction of the SDMC.

Suryan told the news agency PTI that the official order will come soon.

Indian Express, however, reported early on Tuesday that officials in the SDMC said “such a request will need executive approval from the commissioner’s office in the form of an official order”.

In addition to the Press and Information director of the SDMC, another unnamed official is quoted as having expressed that the order needs to go through set channels.

The latter told the newspaper, “Such orders cannot be implemented immediately as there are no such policy provisions. It is also not advisable as such a blanket ban leads to harassment of traders by lower-rung officials.”

ANI quoted a proprietor at INA Market as having said that the sudden ban order is likely to translate into losses.

‘Foul smell on way to offering prayers’

In a letter to SDMC Commissioner Gyanesh Bharti, dated April 4, Suryan said, “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 during Navratri.”

He said during the period of Navratri, devotees of goddess Durga observe fast for nine days with a strict vegetarian diet as well as abstain from the use of non-vegetarian food items, alcohol and also certain spices.

“During these days, people forgo even the use of onion and garlic in their diets and the sight of meat being sold in the open or near temples makes them uncomfortable,” Suryan said in the letter.

The news agency ANI quoted Suryan as having said that during Navratri, “99% of households in Delhi do not even use garlic and onion.”

Several on social media have commented on why such a reasoning kept the mayor from affecting a ban on garlic and onion.

“Keeping in view the sentiments and feelings of the general public, necessary directions may be issued to the officers concerned to take action for the closure of meat shops during the nine-day period of the Navratri festival extending from April 2, 2022 to April 11, 2022,” Suryan wrote.

He also said some meat shops dump waste in gutters or beside the road, which the stray dogs feed on, and claimed that this is not only unhygienic but also “an appalling sight for passersby.”

“Such events can be restricted if the meat shops are closed down during the period of Navratri festival in the area under the jurisdiction of SDMC and the closing of meat shops near temples is also necessary to maintain the cleanliness in and around temples,” Suryan wrote.

Suryan told ANI that licences will be issued with “this condition” now. He has also pushed for an alcohol ban for these nine days.

“I’ve also written to the chief minister to withdraw their discount on alcohol during Navratri and if possible, stop the sale of liquor for 9 days too

On April 2, meanwhile, Ghaziabad district administration reversed its decision to ban the sale of meat during Navratri. The Uttar Pradesh district administration clarified two days later that the government has not issued any such orders.

On April 1, the Ghaziabad civic body said that the mayor had ordered meat shops to shut “to maintain cleanliness in temples”, adding that it would cover all five zones of the district.

The mayor, Asha Sharma, later said on April 2 that licensed meat shops can operate in compliance with state government orders.

Last year, during Navratri in October, videos showing members of rightwing Hindutva outfits mobilising outside meat shops to shut them down emerged on social media from several north Indian cities.