Gur­gaon meat sell­ers told to shut shop

Khaleej Times - - FRONT PAGE -

gur­gaon — Hindu hard­lin­ers are forc­ing meat sell­ers to shut shops in a New Delhi sub­urb that is home to global out­sourc­ing firms, say­ing they must re­spect the feel­ings of ma­jor­ity Hin­dus cel­e­brat­ing a nine­day fes­ti­val.

The drive against the mostly Mus­lim shop­keep­ers in Gur­gaon dur­ing the Navra­tri fes­ti­val is the high­est pro­file cam­paign since Hindu vig­i­lantes tar­geted peo­ple en­gaged in the slaugh­ter of cows, con­sid­ered sa­cred to Hin­dus.

With a na­tional election due by May, some states ruled by Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s Hindu na­tion­al­ist govern­ment are draw­ing ac­cu­sa­tions that they are not do­ing enough to curb the ac­tiv­i­ties of Hindu hard­lin­ers.

One meat shop­keeper re­ferred to the 1947 di­vi­sion of Bri­tish In­dia into the in­de­pen­dent In­dia and Pak­istan. “This is the first time since par­ti­tion that we have been asked to close shops for this long a pe­riod,” said Sa­jid Qureshi, whose fam­ily has been sell­ing meat for decades.

Men are roam­ing around on mo­tor­bikes and sur­vey­ing ar­eas to check for shops sell­ing meat, said Ra­jeev Mit­tal, head of Sanyukt Hindu San­garsh Samiti, an um­brella or­gan­i­sa­tion of 22 Hindu groups.

“Goats, cows are cut and hung up for all to see by the road. So we don’t want peo­ple who are fast­ing dur­ing the Navra­tri to see this,” said Mit­tal, who was wear­ing a red re­li­gious mark on his fore­head and a saf­fron shawl around his neck, told Reuters at his of­fice.

Po­lice de­tained six peo­ple in the re­gion on Wed­nes­day af­ter con­fronta­tion which turned vi­o­lent when Hindu groups al­legedly forced a meat shop owner to close.

“Any­one found forcibly clos­ing meat shops will be dealt with sternly. The mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tion will do its en­force­ment on shops found run­ning without a li­cence,” said Vi­nay Pratap Singh, Deputy Com­mis­sioner of Gur­gaon.

Qureshi, who was sit­ting with his friends out­side a closed meat shop near a mosque, said they had agreed to the de­mands of the Hindu groups as they wanted to avoid con­fronta­tions.

Four other meat re­tail­ers said they were suf­fer­ing heavy losses but were scared to keep their shops open, adding that it looked un­likely that they would be al­lowed to re­open for an­other week.

Hindu groups ar­gue that they are ask­ing meat shop own­ers with proper li­cences to close only dur­ing the nine-day pe­riod, but want shops without li­cences to be per­ma­nently shut down. —

This is the first time since par­ti­tion that we have been asked to close shops for this long a pe­riod

Sa­jid Qureshi, a meat-seller

Goats, cows are cut and hung up for all to see by the road. So we don’t want peo­ple who are fast­ing... to see this

Ra­jeev Mit­tal, a hard­line group head

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