In a repeat of incidents that took place in Navratri in March this year, Shiv Sena workers forced over 500 meats shops to shut down in Gurgaon on Thursday.
PTI reported that Shiv Sena workers assembled at Palam Vihar and forced the shut-down of meat markets in Surat Nagar, Ashok Vihar, Sector 5 and 9, Pataudi Chowk, Jacobpura, Sadar Bazaar, Khandsa Anaj Mandi, bus stand, DLF area, Sohna and Sector 14 market.
The reason? According to them, when a sizeable number of Hindus are fasting during Navratri, selling meat for the consumption of others would amount to an insult to them.
Shiv Sena had reportedly served notices to chicken and mutton shops, but had spared restaurants since the meat was not in public view.
General secretary and spokesperson of Shiv Sena Gurgaon wing, Ritu Raj told PTI, "This time we have not served notices to restaurants and other food chains which serve chicken as it is not seen openly. One will have to face consequences in case he does not follow instructions."
The sainiks also served notices to owners of non-vegetarian food outlets, asking them to close down their shops till the nine-day Navratra festival was over. The notice also came with a warning.
"We had on Tuesday served a memorandum to Gurgaon Deputy Commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh demanding shutting down of raw meat shops for the next 9 days but the administration did not direct the meat shop owners to shut down," Raj told PTI.
Raj' s comments raise a pertinent question -- what right does the Shiv Sena have to force shops to shut down? If anything, the activity is unconstitutional. A political party flexing its muscles to deny people of a democracy their basic right to food is nothing but thuggery.
While a a sizeable part of Hindus are vegetarians or do fast during Navratri, there are also those who do not fast. And while the Shiv Sena has opposed forced vegetarianism in Maharashtra, it seems to be doing exactly the opposite in Haryana.
Raj admitted to ANI that perhaps 50% of the meat shops were closed, the others were shut down by Shiv Sainiks.
More and more such incidents show that the choice of what one must eat no longer lies with an individual. It shows that goons can run amok with impunity in a state with a democratically elected government.
This isn't the first such incident. In March, the Shiv Sena had shut down meat shops and outlets selling non-vegetarian food including an outlet of KFC.
In the absence of a government notification, such forcible action by the Shiv Sena is nothing short of hooliganism that should have drawn harsh criticism from the government. The party, despite being a BJP ally, has sparred with the government at the Centre over various issues. However, the government has chosen to stay mum on this issue so far.