Hindu nationalist groups force mostly-Muslim-owned meat shops to close ahead of religious festival
By Shuriah Niazi
NEW DELHI, India
Hindu-nationalist groups forcibly closed meat and chicken shops in Gurgaon, a satellite city of New Delhi, ahead of the Navratri festival which started Wednesday.
The nine-day festival of fasting is celebrated across the country during which Hindus refrain from eating non-vegetarian food.
The far-right groups said they wanted to prevent the sale of meat during the festival as the government did not accept their demand for a ban.
“We wanted that during this period there should not be any sale of non-vegetarian products anywhere in the city,” said Shiv Sena district head Gautam Saini.
“We have formed teams to see that during the festival, each shop should remain closed,” he told Anadolu Agency.
Rajiv Singh, another Shiv Sena member, said: “We will forcefully close those shops which remain open during this period.”
A local meat shop owner, who did not wish to be named, said: “Our livelihood depends on meat trade. How will we survive if we close our shops for nine days?”
He added: “They just want to impose their own agenda. Instead of wasting their time, they should worship God during this festival.”
Police, however, said they will not allow anyone to shut down the shops.
“The administration will not allow anyone to take law in their own hands. We are keeping a watch on the situation. If we receive any complaint we will immediately take action,” Sumit Kohar, district commissioner of police, told reporters.
Cows are considered sacred in the Hindu religion and since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 there has been a rise in attacks on Muslim cattle owners by Hindu nationalists, with several self-styled cow protection groups emerging in the country.
Many Indians are vegetarian, and most meat shops in the country are owned by Muslims.