Life in Gurgaon

Hindu groups including Shiv Sena threaten to shut meat shops during Navratri in Gurugram

Source: Hindustan Times

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A grouping of 22 Hindu groups has threatened to forcefully shut all meat shops in Gurugram during the festival of Navratri. The Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti (SHSS), Gurugram, said it has decided to close down the shops since the district administration has failed to act on its requests.

Navratri will be celebrated between October 10 and October 18.

Shiv Sena, a member of the Samiti, has written to the district administration that it has formed four teams of 125 members each to visit every meat shop in the city and urge the owner to shut it. “If any shop opens during the festival, we would close it. If anything happens, we will take care of it,” said Gautam Saini, district president of Shiv Sena. Besides the Shiv Sena, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Hindu Sena are also among the members of the Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti.

“Since the district administration did not take any decision on closing the meat shops, we held a meeting and decided to close them down ourselves,” Rajeev Mittal, a member of the Samiti, said.

On Tuesday, 14 meat shops in Sadar Bazar operated with blinders and curtains after members of the Hindu groups asked them to do so ahead of the festival. “We have put up curtains and blinders. But now they have threatened to shut our shops during Navratri,” said Tahir Qureshi, 55, the leader of the market.

After Qureshi and others approached the City police station, patrolling has been intensified in the area, but no separate police force had been provided till 6 pm on Tuesday. “We have not deployed extra force at the market (near Sadar Bazar), but we have asked the patrolling teams to be more careful,” said Vinod Kumar, SHO, City Police Station.

Sumit Kuhar, deputy commissioner of police (crime), said, “We won’t let anyone forcefully close down any meat shop during Navratri. If anyone wants to voluntarily close his shop, then it’s up to him.” Kuhar said the Gurugram police have asked all station house officers (SHOs) to keep a close watch on the situation and to make sure that no shops are closed forcefully.

Yashpal Yadav, commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG), said there is a provision in the rules to close licensed meat shops for a particular time. “Since the representation was made to the deputy commissioner and not us, I cannot issue any order to close shops. I’ll look into the matter if a representation is made to me,” he said.

Yadav said no direction has been issued to close meat shops for Navratri.

Not the first time

In March 2017, during Chaitra Navratri, around 300 meat shops were forcibly shut by protesters on both sides of the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway. They were opened following an assurance by the city police.

In September 2017, during Navratri, about 500 meat shops were forced to close by a group claiming to be members of Shiv Sena.

Last Wednesday, the Samiti representatives met the Gurugram deputy commissioner and demanded that all meat shops in the city be closed during Navratri. On Saturday and Sunday, members of SHSS visited meat shops in different parts of the city, asking their owners to keep their shops closed during the Navratri.

Fear among shopkeepers

The two entrances to the meat market near Sadar Bazar have been covered with over 12-foot-high pink blinders, leaving space for only pedestrians to enter. During a visit to the market, HT spotted a banner at the market entrance which read, “From Muslim community, hearty Navratri wishes”. Apart from this, curtains have been put up at the main door of each of the 14 meat shops in the market.

“Meat has been sold here for the past 50 years, but only in the last two years, people have been asking us to shut the shops during Navtrari. They don’t even stay in the nearby areas. So, why do they have a problem with us selling meat?” asked Tahir Qureshi.

“I have six workers in my shop. I will lose about Rs 50,000 if I close my shop for nine days,” said Mohammad Shahi, 34, who runs a shop in the area.

Qureshi pegged the total loss at over Rs 10 lakh if the market remains shut for Navratri.

Meat shop owners in Nayi Basi and Sector 12 told HT that their shops were closed on account of the weekly holiday on Tuesday. They said they will open their shops only after Navratri.

While some said that they close their shops every year during Navratri, others said that they shut down after seeing reports in newspapers. “Last year, the Hindu groups had asked us to close shops. So, this year we decided to close them before they come and ask us to do so,” said Pankaj, 21, who was standing at a chicken shop in Sector 12. “Look, we don’t even have any stock,” he said.

“I have decided to stop selling mutton till Navratri is over. I will stock only chicken and move everything inside the shop. Why ask for trouble when the situation is already tense?” said Saleem Ahmad, 46, owner of a meat shop in Sector 15.