On Thursday afternoon, a portion of the Grand Trunk Road – that connects Dadri and Ghaziabad — could only be accessed by vehicles brimming with kanwariyas, and shops selling “objectionable items” or meat and egg dishes were shuttered down. “All shops selling meat, eggs, fish have been closed down by the police. This happened on Wednesday.
They conducted checks in the area, visited dhabas as well as food stalls which sell eggs and bread. The dhaba owners were asked to stop selling non-vegetarian food till the time this kanwar yatra is on. Stalls were removed from the road. Non-vegetarian food is part of our staple diet,” said Mohammad Azad, a resident of Nai Abadi area in Dadri.
The reason, police explained, was to prevent the occurrence of any “untoward incident”. While maintaining that it was a “routine measure”, Gautam Buddha Nagar SP (Rural) Suniti said, “This happens every year at the time of kanwar yatra. Some sensitive spots have been identified where there are possibilities of clashes. In order to prevent any untoward incident, stalls selling objectionable items have been asked to close down till the kanwar yatra ends.”
Arif, who works at a butcher shop in Dadri which has been closed, said, “For the last few months, our business has been affected and we have been trying to earn a livelihood amid fear. We do not know when our shops might get closed down. First, there was a crackdown on meat shops, checks conducted on whether beef was being sold. Back then, many people had to close their shops for quite a long time. Now, the administration has taken this decision to prevent any clash, but our business will suffer once again.”
The “sensitive” areas include portions of the Grand Trunk Road, especially those near Dadri, part of Jewar-Bulandshahr highway and areas in Rabupura. “We have asked some shop owners to cover their shops and hawkers have been asked to move from the route taken by kanwariyas to bylanes or another road,” the district’s SP (Rural) said.
Last year, members of a cow protection group had tried to forcibly shut down meat shops in the area. The development took place after the Gau Raksha Hindu Dal’s request to the administration to close down shops selling non-vegetarian food had been turned down. “This year, we had approached the administration with the same demand — close all shops selling meat, fish, eggs and alcohol till Shivaratri. The administration has acted on our request and taken this measure,” said Ved Nagar, President, Gau Raksha Hindu Dal.