CHANDIGARH: As many as 500 establishments selling or serving meat, including an outlet of the popular fast food chain KFC, were forcefully shut down in Gurgaon by Shiv Sena activists on Tuesday morning, on account of Navratri, the nine-day Hindu festival.
Ironically, the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra had opposed a ban on meat sale imposed in Mumbai during the Jain fasting period of ‘paryushan’ last year.
Members of the local unit of Shiv Sena who had assembled at Palam Vihar in Gurgaon asked eateries serving non-vegetarian food in Khandsa Anaj Mandi, Pataudi Chowk, Sadar Bazaar, Surat Nagar, Jacobpura, Ashok Vihar, Sector 5, 9 and 14, among others to not serve meat on Tuesdays and the Navratri period.
Threatening consequences for those who do not comply, Ritu Raj, general secretary and spokesperson of Shiv Sena, Gurugram said, “If the eateries are found open during the nine-day period of Navratras or on Tuesday in future, they will face the ramifications.”
“We have served notices to meat and chicken shop owners and eateries serving non-vegetarian food. We have also asked the KFC outlets to remain shut for the period. Our activists forced the employees of KFC to turn off the electricity supply and they pulled down the shutters of the outlet,” he added.
The district administration and police seemed unaware of the Shiv Sena diktat and remained a silent spectator.
Police commissioner of Gurugram, Sandeep Khirwar told The New Indian Express, “No coercion is allowed and there is enough deployment of police on the ground. If we (police) notice any such thing or we get any such information of a forceful shutdown of meat shops, we will take action.”
The KFC outlet, it appears, did approach the police later and reopen their shutters. President of the Shiv Sena in Gurgaon, Gautam Saini also said so.
Describing the decision of the meat shops to down their shutters as one that was arrived at with “mutual consent”, Saini says “As we went around yesterday and served notices to meat shops (and eateries) asking them to close their shops during navrataras, they did so today. It was with mutual consent. The KFC outlet opened today as they took police protection.”
Shiv Sena does not have a single representative in the Haryana Assembly, but the BJP, which heads the state government, is in alliance with the Uddhav Thackeray-led party in Maharashtra.
Last year, the Shiv Sena had opposed a ban on meat sale imposed in Mumbai during the Jain fasting period of ‘paryushan’. At the time, the Shiv Sena set up temporary meat stalls and also sold meat in packets in protest against the closure of meat shops ordered by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. The BJP had defended the BMC’s ban. However, in the backdrop of a spat between the senior and junior partner of the Devendra Fadnavis government at the time, and the tussle between representatives of the two parties in the civic body, the Shiv Sena worked to undermine the BJP-headed BMC’s orders.
When the party’s contradictory stand with regard to the meat ban in Mumbai was pointed out, Saini said it depended on the food habits of each state. “It varies from state to state. In Haryana, we will not allow the sale of meat during navratras and on Tuesdays. In Rajasthan, West Bengal and Maharashtra it depends on the state and its food habits.’’ Evidently, he meant the food habits of the majority community of Hindus, and not that of Muslims, many Christians and Parsis who eat meat all year round.
There have been attempts to clamp down on the culinary choices of Muslims even in the past. Just last September, the Haryana police and State’s animal husbandry department officials raided shops and vendors selling biryani in Mewat district of Haryana, which is a Muslim-dominated area, after they received complaints that beef was being added to the dish. Samples were also sent to state laboratories for testing, and it allegedly turned out to be beef, indeed. This caused a storm, and required the intervention of the BJP Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. He had, at the time, said the raids were unfortunate and should not have happened. No response yet this time from the state government.
Just 120 km away in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri, Mohammed Akhlaq, a Muslim was lynched to death by a mob that suspected him and his family of having stored and consumed beef, in 2015.