The panic is clear on the face of a middle-aged man standing near a makeshift biryani stall on the Delhi-Alwar road at Ferozepur Jhirka in Haryana’s Mewat district on Friday. Shaukat Ahmed Qureshi, 17, the stall owner, responds in a flash. He calls out to a friend for help and both hurriedly carry away the large, blackened aluminium vessel to a dhaba across the street.
Hiding, moving, and at times even throwing away the biryani, has become a daily ritual for the six remaining food-stall owners on this stretch. Until a month ago, there were 20 of them but things have changed since 25 samples of biryani from these stalls were taken away by local police, based on “complaints” that cow meat was being used in the preparation.