LUCKNOW – It is turning into a “meaty” issue and the scare over sale of meat in Uttar Pradesh is growing by the day.
Even though the state government on Tuesday clarified that there was no order for the closure of meat shops during the ongoing Navratri festival (April 2 to 10), municipal bodies of various cities in Uttar Pradesh are imposing and then withdrawing ban orders.
Navneet Sehgal, additional chief secretary, information, said, “No order has been issued by the Uttar Pradesh government for the closure of meat shops during the nine-day-long Navratri festival.”
Principal secretary (Uttar Pradesh Food and Drug Administration) Anita Singh has also informed officers concerned that no such notification had been issued by the state government.
Deputy Commissioner, FDA, Hari Singh, said the department made it clear to officers in all districts that no order for the closure of meat shops during Navratri was issued by the state government.
“Officers were directed to ensure that cleanliness was maintained near religious spots where devotees assemble to offer prayers. Meat shops should not be located within 200 metres of religious spots. It’s a routine order that is issued by the department every year during the festivity. Officers are also directed to check slaughter of certain animals,” he added.
However, reports coming in from various districts claim that meat shops are remaining closed, causing inconvenience to Muslim consumers during Ramzan.
In Gorakhpur, Abdul Rehmani, a meat seller, admitted that he has not opened his shop since Saturday when Navratri began.
“Anonymous callers claiming to be members of the Hindu Sena, have warned me against opening the shop during Navratri. I do not want any trouble and I am willing to suffer losses. I will open my shop after Ram Navmi next week,” he said.
In Lucknow, Mayor Sanyukta Bhatia directed LMC officials to shift meat shops in narrow lanes to commercial areas on the city’s outskirts.
She said this was aimed at saving the population living in narrow lanes from communicable diseases. She added, “I have only asked the shops to be shifted, not closed. And there is no religious angle to it.”
Meat sellers, however, question the timing of the order.
Kanpur mayor Pramila Pandey had said: “There will be complete closure of meat shops for nine days.”
“I am observing fast and seeing animals being slaughtered openly does make one feel bad. It is not a matter of Hindu or Muslim, the order will be for all,” she added, ignoring the FDA order.
Saeeda Naim, a homemaker, said that since most meat sellers had already shut shop due to the fear of backlash from fringe outfits, members of the Muslim community were facing problems during Ramzan.
“Non vegetarian dishes are an integral part of Iftar and substituting them with vegetarian food is a difficult option. This is a major festival for us and for two years, we have faced a similar crisis during the lockdowns but this year, there is no such apparent reason. The government should emphatically clarify the issue,” she said.
Roohi Altaf, a young businessman, said that in any case, Hindus turn vegetarian during Navratri and everyone respects their sentiments.
“In fact, most Hindus take off non-vegetarian dishes from their menu during this period but Muslims should be allowed to eat what they want during their festivals,” he said.
A number of cloud kitchens have become operational in Lucknow during the ongoing festive season.
A lady who had started preparing non-vegetarian food on demand, said on condition of anonymity that, “Many of my friends were facing problems in getting meat because of the scare. I have arranged meat from a shop on the outskirts of the state capital and prepared biryani, kebabs and other dishes that are supplied to my customers from my home. We take orders early in the day so that I can arrange meat accordingly.” -IANS