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UP: For Kanwar Yatra, Meat Shops Shut, Covered to 'Respect' Hindu Sentiments

Several Muslims, approximately 114, were first invited for 'peace talks' at local police stations in Muzaffarnagar district and then subsequently detained.
UP: kanwar Yatra meat ban

Meat shops covered with black tarpaulin in Muzaffarnagar. | Image by Abdul Alim Jafri

Lucknow: In lieu of the ongoing Kanwar Yatra, meat shops in Muzaffarnagar have been ordered to remain shut and shrouded in black to avoid offending the religious sentiments of the Hindu pilgrims. In order to respect the pilgrimage, the administration has decided to not only shut meat shops, which puts meat sellers out of business but has also rendered them invisible by covering their shop fronts with black cloth.

To facilitate the Kanwar Yatra, several Muslims, approximately 114, were first invited for 'peace talks' at local police stations in Muzaffarnagar district and then subsequently detained under Section 151 (prevention of commission of cognisable offences) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). This ban on meat and preventive detention of local Muslims has stirred fear and chaos among Muslims in the area. 

Along with Muzaffarnagar, the Meerut administration has also maintained that all meat shops on the Kanwar route will be closed, and more than 1000 CCTV cameras were installed to monitor this ban.

"At least 90 Muslims were called to 18 different police stations in Muzaffarnagar on Saturday. They were challenged under section 151 of CrPC and sent to jail the same day. The next day they arrested 24 more Muslims in a similar pattern. They were called concerning the Peace committee meeting, but police said they may disturb peace ahead of Kanwar Yatra. They were let off after spending a night in the jail, and they furnished a bail bond of Rs 1 lakh each not to slaughter animals and disturb the harmony and peace," Murtaza Rana, the lawyer who represented the case, told NewsClick, adding the administration "misused the power of law."

Rana added that the administration has also identified around 500 people in Muzaffarnagar. 

NewsClick also spoke to the multiple people sent to jail. On the condition of anonymity, they said, "The police said that the challan had been issued under 151; we just need to appear before the magistrate and will come back home. But we were detained and sent to jail for a day. When we asked the police officer for which crime we were being sent to jail, he said our track record was bad. We were sent to jail for a day based on mere suspicion that we might commit any crime which would disturb the peace of the city."

Another person who lives under Kotwali police station who was detained told NewsClick, "On Sunday, a group of police landed at my home and asked me to come to the police station as my photo has to be clicked. When I asked the reason, he told me that I had been booked under 151 CrPC and would get bail within an hour, but when I reached the police station, I was sent to jail and got bail the next day."

Dharmendra Sheoran, sub-inspector of Khalapar police station, from where around 19 people were detained and sent to jail, refused to comment. 

"We can not give our reaction to anyone as I do not know you. You should approach the media cell for your queries."

The action comes within a week after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath ordered to prohibit the sale of meat in the open along the routes fixed for the Kanwar Yatra in various parts of the state from July 4 ahead of the commencement of the Kanwar Yatra. 

Reviewing a meeting with senior officials, including police commissioners, divisional commissioners, district magistrates, and superintendents of police in Lucknow, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said, "Respecting the belief of devotees, meat should not be allowed to be sold in the open on the Kanwar route. The route should remain clean and sanitised. There should be provision for streetlights. Since the weather is hot, arrangements for drinking water should also be made," the chief minister said in the meeting.

He also asked the officials to install CCTV cameras on the Yatra route and deploy divers. The places for setting up Kanwar camps should be marked in advance so that traffic is not obstructed, he ordered.

He further said that this year due to "Adhimas" (additional month), the month of Shravan is of two months duration. The festivals of Shravani Shivratri, Nagpanchami and Rakshabandhan will be celebrated during this period, he said.

Before the commencement of the Kanwar Yatra, the state government had issued an order stating that "respecting the faith of the Kanwar devotees, there should be no sale and purchase of meat in the open anywhere on the Kanwar Yatra route. Cleanliness is maintained on the Kanwar Yatra route. Cleanliness and sanitation should be maintained on the Yatra route. Besides, arrangements for drinking water and food will also be made on the way. 

According to Indian law search engine Indian Kanoon, Section 151 of the CrPC states, "A police officer knowing of a design to commit any cognisable offence may arrest, without orders from a Magistrate and a warrant, the person so designing, if it appears to such officer that the commission of the offence cannot be otherwise prevented."

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