Even though meat shops can remain open during the 21-day lockdown, several meat-sellers alleged that Delhi Police forced them to pull the shutters down.
In South Delhi’s CR Park, which has a thriving meat and chicken market, the owner of East Bengal Halal Mutton and Chicken Shop, Mohd. Faizan said, “On Sunday, the whole market was closed due to ‘janata curfew’. When we opened on Monday, the local police officer said we have to shut it. We told him the Delhi government has exempted us from the lockdown but he didn’t listen.”
Faizan said he showed newspaper clippings to police Wednesday morning but was not allowed to keep the shop open. “I have around 70 kg chicken and mutton in deep freeze,” he said.
In Saket and Malviya Nagar too, at least two meat sellers alleged that police threatened them to shut shop. “We know we are allowed and that police are wrong but they threatened to hit us, so we are just sitting at home now,” said a meat seller in Saket.
DCP (South) Atul Kumar Thakur, however, claimed that no personnel in his district had asked anyone to shut their meat shop, and that maybe shopkeepers did it on their own “because they don’t have supplies”.
At 11.30 am Wednesday, a mutton shop owner in Southeast Delhi’s Zakir Nagar was allegedly “forced to shut shop after a policeman hit the counter with lathi”. A video of the incident too did the rounds. The owner told The Indian Express, “The policeman said we should shut shop because the disease (coronavirus) is spreading because of it… If they have a problem, they should at least behave in a civilised manner.”
DCP (Southeast) R P Meena said the shop was shut down as “there were too many people inside, but personnel have been briefed not to misbehave with public. We will inquire into this”.
In East Delhi, the famous Ghazipur murga and bakra mandis, the main suppliers of chicken and mutton in Delhi, are shut. Akram Karim, who runs a shop there, said, “We have been shut since the ‘janata curfew’. We get our stock from UP, Rajasthan, Punjab and supply it to hotels, restaurants in Delhi. The borders are sealed so we have nothing to sell, and restaurants — our major clients — are shut.”
In Central Delhi’s Meena Bazar, Suiwalan and Matia Mahal too, most shops were shut — with many attributing it to police high-handedness, while others cited zero stock. Mohd. Aslam, who runs Aslam Chicken in Meena Bazar, said, “We sell mostly to residents and have some stock, but police are not letting us operate. I have 15 employees and am suffering losses of Rs 15,000-20,000 a day.”
DCP (Central) Sanjay Bhatia said, “Police have not told anyone to shut shops, they have done it on their own because restaurants, their main clients, are shut.”
In Southwest Delhi’s Vasant Kunj, Gulzar Ahmed, who runs Gulzar Chicken in Block D4, shared a similar issue: “I only have 4-5 kg stock in deep freeze but haven’t been able to sell it… A local police personnel gave us an hour on Tuesday to shut shop.”
In the posh Meher Chand Market, however, MI meat suppliers were open, and the owner said that “this may not last long as supplies are almost over and Ghazipur mandi is shut”.
While some Green Chick Shop outlets were closed in the capital, one in South Delhi’s Kailash Colony was open. The manager said, “Police on Tuesday told us we should not allow anyone inside, and should hand over packets at the gate. We are doing that.”
ANJU an English teacher and District Mentor for English in the Parho Punjab Project (Jalandhar district), said that teachers have formed WhatsApp groups with the senior students and with the parents of the junior classes.
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