The ripples of a letter from the mayor of South MCD, ordering meat shops in South Delhi to close during Navratri, were felt in several parts of Delhi as some shopkeepers lowered their shutters in fear while others decided to open, albeit cautiously.
All 38 meat shops in INA Market were closed on Tuesday morning, said Ramesh Bhutani, president of the INA Market Traders Association. “The traders came to meet me in the afternoon. As we haven’t received any official order, I asked them to open,” Bhutani said. Market shops also supply hotels, and that supply could be hit if they are not allowed to open, he added.
Jaswant Singh was among the butcher shop owners who closed the shutters in the morning, but opened after the meeting with the president of the association. “We opened in the evening. Otherwise, the stock will go bad and lead to huge losses. We still don’t know what to do tomorrow,” he said.
Krishan Kumar, a store owner who opted to keep the store closed all day, said he read in the newspapers that a penalty would be imposed on those who opened their stores, or their licenses would be revoked. “If we had been told in advance, we would not have stocked up on meat. I have shares worth almost Rs 2 lakh. Workers who help chop meat or clean will lose their daily wages of at least Rs 500 per day if the market has to close,” he said.
The butchers in the INA market are open all week, even on Tuesdays, while the butchers in other areas of the city are generally closed.
Ashok Bajaj, who owns a fish shop and two meat shops at the market, all of which were closed on Tuesday, said the losses would be immense if they were to close during Navratri – April 2-11. salaries too,” he said.
Shop owners gathered in groups in the market, discussing the situation and trying to decide whether they could raise the shutters on Wednesday. The meat comes from the Ghazipur slaughterhouse, which is also closed on Tuesday, said Mohammad Ibrahim, whose store was open but without much stock. Each trader can buy between 20kg and 50kg for sale, he said.
At CR Park Market 2, nearly all 20 stores are usually closed on Tuesdays, said Aurobinda Das, who runs a fish stall. “We don’t know if we will be able to open tomorrow. We learned what the mayor said when customers called us and asked about the closure. We have not yet received an official notice. If butcher shops are asked to close, does this also include fish? It is a clean market and we are not near a temple,” he said.
Market establishment owner Shishir Hajra said, “I usually open the shop on Tuesdays. Learned about this when I came here in the morning and decided to keep it closed today.
During Navratri, sales are slow anyway, traders in both markets said. While Bhutani estimates that sales in the INA market drop by around 40% during Navratri, Krishan Kumar estimated them to be around 25% lower than normal.
The meat shops in Hauz Khas and Jamia Nagar were meanwhile open. Mohammad Junaid, who runs a meat shop in Jamia Nagar, said: “We usually only close on Fridays.”
Mohammad Amanullah, who runs a chicken and mutton shop in Jamia Nagar, said: “Until the procedure is followed and a circular is issued, shops cannot be asked to close. The stores here were open today.
Haseen, who runs the Kallu butcher shop in Hauz Khas, said the establishment was open on Tuesday. “We’ll have to see for tomorrow, but no orders were received today.”