Sena Orders Gurgaon Meat Shops - And KFC - To Close For Navratras

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Sena Orders Gurgaon Meat Shops - And KFC - To Close For Navratras

The closures have led to fears of meat shortages and disruption of exports of buffalo beef.

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. For Navratras, Sena says KFC can't serve chicken
  2. Sena says 300 meat shops must shut for Navratras
  3. Sale of meat on Tuesdays should also be stopped: Sena
At least 300 meat shops in Gurgaon near Delhi have been ordered by the Shiv Sena to close for the nine-day Hindu festival of Navratras, which began yesterday.

The Sena is a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's national coalition. "We have served notices to meat shop owners, including KFC, and other fast food outlets to shut their shops till Navratri ends and on every Tuesday," Gautam Saini, the president of Shiv Sena, Gurgaon, told news agency Press Trust of India.

He said that because many Hindus abstain from non-vegetarian food on Tuesdays, he intends to ensure that meat shops do not open on Tuesdays at all. The local police said that because it has not received any complaint, it cannot intervene.  

Amid reports that a KFC outlet had been forced to shut down for selling chicken during the Navratras, when devotees fast, the company said in a statement, "We have not received any notification from the authorities on limiting operations during the Navratras...we would like to reiterate that KFC has the highest respect for the cultural and religious beliefs of all communities and believe that consumers are free to make choices and decisions."

The Sena is a regular enforcer of diktats in the name of protecting and promoting Hinduism. Its action comes as BJP-governed states have moved quickly to copy the crackdown on unlicensed slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh. For months, the Sena has been a long-time critic of the BJP. Its virulent campaign in Gurgaon is in keeping with its efforts to not be eclipsed by the BJP on issues seen as important to Hindus.

The new government of Yogi Adityanath in Uttar Pradesh, barely two weeks old, has ordered officials to inspect and shut down abattoirs that are operating illegally.

"If it is legal, nobody has a right to stop it. But if it is illegal, why should this be allowed to function? We believe in the rule of the land," said Rajiv Tuli, media coordinator of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of the BJP.

BJP leaders defend the action stating that it was a crucial component of the party's election manifesto in Uttar Pradesh and reflects the stand taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2014 general election campaign, when he spoke against the "pink revolution" and India's increasing meat exports.

Critics and political opponents caution that the action against slaughterhouses risks inflaming communal tension and is tough mainly on Muslims, who dominate the meat industry.  

Several other BJP-ruled states, including Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, are ordering closures of abattoirs operating without licences. Most of the beef produced in India comes from buffalo rather than cattle.

Raghubar Das, Chief minister of Jharkhand, has issued advertisements in local papers to appeal to meat sellers to follow his government's instructions. In Rajasthan, 16 illegal slaughterhouses were shut down last week, a government official said.

The closures have led to fears of meat shortages and disruption of exports of buffalo beef and other meat products.

India is one of the largest exporters of buffalo meat, selling $4 billion worth of beef in the 2015/16 fiscal year. Uttar Pradesh is the biggest producer of buffalo meat in the country, and exporters said the latest crackdown will hurt business.

"Right now everyone is very scared because they don't know whether what they are doing will be termed as legal or illegal," said Priya Sud, partner at Al Noor Exports, which operates slaughter houses in Uttar Pradesh.

Abdul Faheem Qureshi, president of the Muslim All India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee that represents the cause of meat sellers, said his organisation was considering legal action.

"Even we respect Hindu sentiments and are against cow slaughter," Mr Qureshi said. "But this is being carried out only for political gains.

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