In an attempt to set an example of communal harmony, owners of over a dozen non-vegetarian food outlets in the Ghantaghar locality have started selling paneer biryani to the kanwariyas. Kanwar Yatra is an annual pilgrimage undertaken by Lord Shiva’s devotees, also known as kanwariyas.
The banners put up by the outlets read — Chal rahe shravan mass me sabhi kanwar yatriyo ka samman rakhte hue humare restaurant me pavitra jal chadne tak shakahari haleem biryani uplabdh rahegi (To honour the kanwar yatris during the ongoing month of shravan, our restaurants will sell vegetarian haleem biryani)”.
“Political leaders have always tried to drive a wedge between people from the two communities to serve their vested interests. But it is our responsibility to live together peacefully so that our children can grow up in a healthy society. The spices for biryani in my shop and the monthly ration in my house come from shops owned by our Hindu brothers. Where is the question of a communal divide?” said Abdul Rehman, 49, whose shop in Ghantaghar has been known for its sumptuous buffalo meat biryani since 1968.
“Though in the last three days our sale has got down by 20 per cent… that does not matter. We are operating on a no-loss, no-profit basis. We know how important this shravan month is for the Hindus and compared to that the loss in my restaurant is insignificant,” said Raisuddin, another biryani outlet owner.
“We had meetings with restaurant owners in the area to ensure peace during Kanwar Yatra and they came up with the idea of not selling non-vegetarian biryani during the period,” said Yashveer Singh, in-charge of Kotwali police station. Welcoming the move, Lakshmi Kant Bajpai, former state BJP chief and four-time legislator from Meerut, said, “This will strengthen our communal bond.”
Shops selling non-vegetarian food items on Hapur and Delhi roads will remain shut during Kanwar Yatra. “We held a meeting with meat sellers before the beginning of shravan month and requested them to shut shop… and they happily agreed. We will send a report to the state government,” said Rajesh Kumar Pandey, SSP (Meerut).
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