Hours after the Delhi Idgah Slaughterhouse was sealed, hundreds gathered at the Shahi Eidgah round about at Paharganj to express their discontent.
The two-century-old abattoir, which has provided a means of livelihood to thousands down the ages, is to be replaced with a high-tech slaughterhouse situated at Ghazipur in East Delhi.
Tempers started soaring in the afternoon, as dozens of small meat traders and distributors based in the Paharganj and Karol Bagh started gathering at the ancient prayer-grounds to protest against being uprooted from their means of livelihood.
Shahbaz Khan (27), a meat vendor from Karol Bagh said, "I used to save some money because the transportation cost from the slaughterhouse to my shop was negligible."
"But with this new facility coming-up at East Delhi, not only will I end-up paying more for cartage, but I think I will need to hire a transportation service for the goods."
"The mandi at Ghazipur is much, much smaller than this one. How will it accommodate so many workers?" asked Mohammad Mubarik (18), a meat vendor based in Paharganj.
Even those providing ancillary services like fodder for the animals rued their fate, "There are more than 50 others like me who sell fodder for the animals before they are slaughtered; but we are not getting a shop near the new facility. We will lose our only means of survival," said Mohammad Javed (18) a fodder vendor.
Many protested even as cadres of the Reserve Police Force and Delhi Police teams armed with lathis and tear gas looked on, "The slaughterhouse was the only means of livelihood to almost a lakh migrant workers from Kashmir to Bihar," said Mohammad Nafeez (36), a meat trader.
"These workers toil for hours and still consider themselves fortunate if they manage to get just two meals a day; even if they decide to shift to Ghazipur, they won't be able to afford a roof on their heads."
Most were incensed at the Municipal Corporation of Delhi's (MCD) proposal to construct a mall in place of the facility, "It's ridiculous," said Taseem Quereishi (53), a member of the New Delhi Meat Traders' Association.
"Thousands of people connected to the facility directly or indirectly have lost their livelihoods - and the corporation wants us to welcome its decision to build a mall here?"