Meat shops in the city remain closed even after the withdrawal of the Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation (GMC) order for closure of meat shops during Navaratri.
Mohammed Qasim | Clarion India
GHAZIABAD — A day after the Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation (GMC) ordered complete closure of meat shops in the city for nine days of Navaratri, Mayor Asha Sharma issued a notice on April 2 relaxing the rules. As per her notice, the vendors are free to open their shops on the condition that they should maintain cleanliness in the vicinity. But the notice has no effect on the Muslim meat vendors as their shops are still found closed.
The Mayor’s notice reads: “The Navaratri festival is starting from April 2 to April 10, in view of this, along with the cleanliness system of the city, the cleanliness of all the temples in the city should be ensured” as well as in the letter issued from the office of the mayor.
The question remains why the Muslim meat vendors are reluctant to take the assurance of the mayor on its face value. If not the fear of harassment at the hands of rightwing Hindu groups, what is preventing them from opening the shops?
It has been seen Hindutva activists become active during festivals of both Hindu and Muslim. Muslim meat vendors remain their prime target. But this time around, the vendors not only have to fear raids from the saffron brigade. They can’t trust the administration.
The notice issued by Mayor Asha Sharma is a bone of contention. It reads: “We will follow the guidelines of the UP Government regarding banning meat.” Muslim meat vendors cite the clause to justify their fears. They are looking at the notice as a ploy to target Muslims on the excuse of hygiene.
The Mayor said, “The matter should not be looked at from the point of view of Hindu-Muslim, we are talking about following the guidelines that the government has implemented, now you should ask the government.” Find out how many shops will remain closed and what will open, this matter should not be unnecessarily given importance.
But the mayor’s assurance carries little conviction with those who have had a bitter experience in the past. 18-year-old Aman Qureshi, who runs a meat shop in Islamnagar, Ghaziabad, has no idea about the new order. He says he closed his shop in deference to the Hindu festival. “We respect all religions. We can understand the sentiments of Hindus over Navaratri as we also fast during Ramadan. Hence, we have decided to shut shops.
As for the cleanliness clause, Aman said he takes good care of cleanliness even though there is no temple in the vicinity of his shop.
The meat business has come to a complete standstill even though Ramadan has started. Even as demand for meat is on peak, the vendors are forced to sit at home.
Another vendor, who did not want to be named, said, “We know that there are orders to close the shops for 9 days, if we open the shop, we may be challaned for Rs 10,000. Why take the risk? The meat stock is rotting at the shop, but we can’t do anything. I have no idea how to meet the household expenses.”
When posed this question, Mayor Asha Sharma vehemently denied that anybody is going to be challaned. “There is nothing like this… This is a routine action… Tell me who is not opening the shop, as per the order of the government. Cleanliness should be taken care of. However, no vendor will be unduly harassed over the issue,” she said.
Aashiq Qureshi, 28, who runs a meat shop in Naya Ghaziabad area, says he has opened new shops a few days ago, but after this order, he is sitting at home closing all his shops. He said all the shops in the area are completely closed. “Festivals are special for everyone, but the closure of shops during Ramadan is affecting the household income.”
According to the mayor, the orders to close the shops have been withdrawn, but 35-year-old Rahmat Elahi, who opened his meat shop in Rajnagar on April 3 after reading the news, said, “My shop is close to the DM office. I was sitting after opening my shop when a police team came and asked to close the shop. When I showed the new order, they said they have no such notice.
What’s intriguing the shopkeepers is that the MCG is talking about following the guidelines of the UP government regarding the meat ban while the UP government has not issued any guidelines regarding the new meat ban.
BJP MLA from Loni, Nand Kishore Gurjar, in the past had issued several appeals for the closure of meat shops during festivals. On Thursday, he wrote a letter to the DM stating that several restaurants in his constituency were selling meat and requested the authorities to take action.