KFC opens after police intervention but meat shops remain shut in Gurgaon
An outlet of popular fast food chain KFC — which had been forced to down shutters by alleged Shiv Sena activists, opened in Gurgaon’s sector 14 on Wednesday noon. However, meat shops in Jama Masjid area and other parts of the city remained closed fearing violence during Navratri.gurgaon Updated: Apr 06, 2017 12:31 IST
Following assurances of security from the police, an outlet of popular fast food chain KFC — which had been forced to down shutters by alleged Shiv Sena activists, opened in Gurgaon’s sector 14 on Wednesday noon.
However, meat shops in Jama Masjid area of Sadar Bazaar and other parts of the city remained closed fearing violence by people who claimed to be from the Shiv Sena. They forced local meat shop operators to down shutters for Navratri, a nine-day Hindu festival during which the devotees eat vegetarian food.
Police increased surveillance in Sector 14 market and meat shops across the city on Wednesday assuring action against those forcing closure of shops. However, despite the assurance, an uneasy calm prevailed in the Sadar Bazar area as the meat shops remained closed. A number of meat shops in the area sell buffalo meat.
“We were forced to close shops for two days. However, the police have promised to provide security and we will open on Thursday,” Mohammad Tahir, president of Jama Masjid Market Committee, said.
Sandeep Khirwar, Gurgaon police commissioner, said the police have strict instructions to avert any such forcible closure. “Police teams are patrolling and action will be taken against those forcing closure of shops,” Khirwar said.
Protesters claimed to have closed more than 300 meat shops, including the KFC outlet in Sector 14 and other food outlets selling non-vegetarian fare, on Tuesday.
The group targeted shops in Gurgaon’s busy Sadar Bazar area, sectors 7, 9, 14, and Palam Vihar on the right side of the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, they turned on the shops on the other side in DLF, Sushant Lok, Sohna Road and Badshahpur areas. The protestors, however, claimed that shops were closed voluntarily on Wednesday and would remain so till the end of Navratri.
“We did not have to do much on Wednesday as all the shops were closed voluntarily,” Raj said.
The protesters also want all meat shops in the area closed on Tuesdays saying that Hindus are barred from eating meat on the day.
“A number of Hindus keep fast during Navratri and every Tuesday. It does not feel good to see meat being sold and served on this day. Most shopkeepers have supported the move and we even consulted those who resisted,” said Ritu Raj, who claimed to be the district spokesperson of the Shiv Sena.
However, the Sena leadership in Mumbai distanced itself from the incident. Party leaders in Haryana said that the forced shutdown of meat shops and food joints were carried out by members of the party’s local wing.
“We didn’t carry out any such drive in Gurugram,” said Harshal Pradhan, media advisor to Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
“Those who shut down (meat) shops in Gurgaon are part of the Shiv Sena, but the drive was carried out by members of our local wing,” Gopal Sharma, Haryana state in-charge of the Shiv Sena, said.
A KFC spokesperson said, “KFC did not receive any notification from the authorities on limiting operations during the Navratras or Tuesdays. The outlet in Gurgaon opened and operated normally on Wednesday.”
The incident comes amid a strike by meat traders in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh as shop owners in India’s largest meat-producing state say they are being harassed by state officials. The strike came in response to a drive by the BJP government to close down all illegal slaughterhouses in the state. Many meat shops in the state were also set on fire over the past week.