NEW DELHI: Fish and meat sellers of the national capital’s posh neighbourhood, Chittaranjan Park, also known as Delhi’s ‘mini Kolkata’, were in for a rude shock on Thursday when they received a closure notice from South Delhi Municipal Corporation.
The decision on the closure comes a little over a month after the SDMC had sought a ban on the sale of meat during the nine-day Hindu festival of Navratri from 2 to 11 April, triggering similar reactions by East Delhi Mayor Shyam Sundar Agarwal and BJP MP Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma who extended their support to the controversial ban on meat.
The New Indian is in possession of the notice served to around 50-60 such shops.
“No person shall sell the meat at his shop without a valid license in the jurisdictional area of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC)”, the notice reads.
SDMC has warned the shops, saying the notice to close down the sale of meat/fish from the platform at CR Park must be replied in an undertaking that trade has been shut and that failing to do this would result in action under the DMC Act and Meat shop licensing policy including the registration of FIR.
The livelihood of several families in CR Park’s markets 1 and 2 involved in trading fish, is now grim.
Hawkers and shop-owners believe that a valid license sought by the SDMC is nothing but a pretext “to pander to whimsical directions of the BJP leaders to civic body’s officials”.
Tabu Mandal, a fish seller at CR Park’s No. 2 fish market, which had been selling fish for the last 30 years, told The New Indian, “Delhi authorities are asking us for a valid license, but to get a valid license, we need a space 10 feet long and 10 feet wide. Where will we get the space now? We have been selling fish for almost 30 years. But the real reason is that they want to protect BJP’s core vote bank here. So, they have now clearly used the word sale of fish and meat to be banned. They should know we never hurt the sentiments of our own religion. If the authorities want us to obtain a license, they have to do it based on this place, a market which has been selling fish since 1972.”
“There are similar fish markets in Saket, Chirag Delhi and many other places. They have not been closed. There is discrimination as those Hindus practise Navratras. So, it’s clear, it’s not about fish or meat as it’s only about Navratra,” said a hawker, who wished to remain anonymous.
Staff working at these shops face an uncertain future. Many of them said they would be rendered jobless after the closure. They also fear police crackdown if they operate their shops for home orders or open snack shops elsewhere in the vicinity.
Another meat trader, who is selling several non-vegetarian fares, for the last 27 years said they were being singled out for their own religious beliefs which are not too different from mainstream Hindu traditions.
“Why did only the fish sellers from CR Park receive this notice? What about those who sell fish elsewhere? Why is it that they don’t have to suffer this harassment?” asked Pradeep Saha.
During Navratri, fish sellers like Saha and Mandal, of CR Park’s markets 1 and 2, had continued to sell various meat properties despite an appeal to close down.