Hindu extremists in India are attacking meat sellers (mostly Muslims) to shut down their shops in the cyber hub of the country – Gurgaon / Gurugram (near capital New Delhi), saying they must respect the feelings of majority Hindus who are celebrating a nine-day religious festival.
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The drive against the mostly Muslim shopkeepers in Gurugram during the Navaratri festival is the highest profile campaign since Hindu vigilantes targeted people engaged in the slaughter of cows, considered sacred to Hindus.
With a national election due by May, some states ruled by PM Modi’s Hindu nationalist government are drawing accusations that they are not doing enough to curb the activities of Hindu hardliners.
“This is the first time since partition that we have been asked to close shops for this long a period,” said Sajid Qureshi, whose family has been selling meat for decades. Men are roaming around on motorbikes and surveying areas to check for shops selling meat, said Rajeev Mittal, head of Sanyukt Hindu Sangarsh Samiti, an umbrella organisation of 22 Hindu groups.
“Goats, cows are cut and hung up for all to see by the road. So we don’t want people who are fasting during the Navratri to see this,” said an activist
Police detained six people in the region on Wednesday after the confrontation which turned violent when Hindu groups allegedly forced a meat shop owner to close.
“Anyone found forcibly closing meat shops will be dealt with sternly. The municipal corporation will do its enforcement on shops found running without a licence,” said Vinay Pratap Singh, Deputy Commissioner of Gurugram.
Qureshi, who was sitting with his friends outside a closed meat shop near a mosque, said they had agreed to the demands of the Hindu groups as they wanted to avoid confrontations.
Hindu groups argue that they are asking meat shop owners with proper licences to close only during the nine-day period, but want shops without licences to be permanently shut down. There are 95 licensed meat shops in the region, while there could be up to 60 without licences, according to Ashish Singla, medical officer at Gurugram’s municipal corporation.