South Delhi Mayor Mukesh Suryan on Tuesday said there was "no need to open meat shops" during Navratra, claiming that "most people do not consume non-vegetarian food" during this period, even as the move has triggered sharp reactions on social media.
While no official order has been issued so far, Suryan in a letter to SDMC Commissioner Gyanesh Bharti on Monday had said that "religious beliefs and sentiments of devotees are affected" when they come across meat shops or have to bear the foul smell of meat on their way to offer daily prayers to goddess Durga during Navratra.
Meat shops will not be allowed to open from Tuesday during Navratra till April 11, he had said, and asked the municipal commissioner to ensure strict adherence of his directives.
"Most of the meat shops were closed today. Most people do not eat meat, onion-garlic during Navratra time. So keeping in view the religious sentiments of the public, there is no need to open meat shops during the Navratra festival. An order in this regard will be issued today," Suryan told PTI on Tuesday.
Tuesday is considered an auspicious day by a majority of sections of the community, and several meat shops are generally closed on this day of the week.
The Navratra period is from April 2-11 when the faithful observe fast and largely eat satvik food.
At the INA Market in central Delhi, several meat shops were closed on Tuesday, with some traders claiming that shutters were downed due to a perceived 'order' on closure of meat shops.
However, no official order has been issued by civic authorities so far.
No such move has been made by civic bodies in North Delhi or East Delhi.
A senior NDMC official said, "I have not come across any such proposal relating to the North Delhi Municipal Corporation".
Mohammed Saleem, general secretary, Ghazipur Murga Mandi, said meat shops are closed today as per their "usual schedule". Any impact of mayor's move will be clear by 9 am on Wednesday, he said.
The mayor's decision has triggered a controversy, with many taking to Twitter and other social media platforms to questions the move.
Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted: "Being a vegetarian, no egg, no onion eater I respect the eating choices of others, so please don't carry your motivated agenda in our names or on our behalf. Thank you."
Many commoners also protested such a move by the South Delhi's mayor in a democratic country.
"Mukesh Suryan, mayor of South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), on his recommendation to shut meat shops in Delhi during Navratri. Mukesh Suryan should know that India is a secular country, not a Hindu State. So, stop your saffron mindset of hatred and nonsense," alleged user @thisismalik on Twitter.
User @Rabindersingh also questioned the claim of the mayor: "Incorrect figures. Just about 50% of the households don't use onion and garlic. Everyone doesn't fast either. SDMC needs some better issues to tackle rather than enforcing impractical laws. What if one gets meat and alcohol from another municipal domain within the city??"
Another user @t_d_h_nair wrote on Twitter: "I'm a Hindu. I live in South Delhi. My sentiments are not hurt when meat shops are open or when my fellow Hindus and people from other religions eat non-veg during Navratri. South Delhi's mayor from the BJP is conflating his political ideology with the beliefs of Hindus."
This is not the first time such a controversy has been stoked over selling of meat.
In December 2020, the SDMC had cleared a proposal that asked restaurants or shops to "mandatorily" display whether the meat being sold or served was cut using the 'halal' or 'jhatka' method.