Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP Gujarat chief CR Paatil has instructed mayors in the state to not take any coercive actions against those selling non-vegetarian food on roadside carts, reports The Indian Express.
Paatil's statement is significant because it comes at a time when several BJP-run civic bodies in Gujarat, such as the ones in Vadodara, Rajkot and Bhavnagar, have been working towards removing non-vegetarian food carts and stalls from the main roads, in the name of "hurt religious sentiments".
“Everyone in this country has the liberty to decide what to eat. It is not appropriate to remove a person selling non-vegetarian food on a cart if people are buying from him. There is no such provision in the law either. People are free to sell anything that is not prohibited. So, there is no question of removing carts."CR Paatil, BJP Gujarat chief
Paatil’s Point Counters Actions of Party-run Civic Bodies
This is not the first time Paatil has made this point. Earlier too, he had instructed civic bodies run by the BJP to set aside announcements based on “personal beliefs".
On being pointed out that the civic bodies of Rajkot and Bhavnagar have ordered the removal of non-vegetarian food carts from roadsides citing hurt religious sentiments, Paatil clarified, “They all have been instructed not to do any such thing.”
Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel too had earlier opposed the coercive actions directed at non-vegetarian food, and said that the state administration was unbothered about what people ate. But Patel had also said that this was a matter of hygiene and roadside encroachments.
What Have the Civic Bodies Done So Far?
The following are the actions taken by BJP-run civic bodies in the state so far:
On 15 November, the Town Planning Committee of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation declared that food stalls selling non-vegetarian food will not be allowed on main roads among other designated places. Committee Chairman Devang Dani had stated, "Stalls selling non-vegetarian items will not be allowed along public roads and in the 100-meter radius of schools, colleges and religious places."
On 11 November, the Vadodara Municipal Corporation, had issued verbal instructions to remove non-vegetarian food from 'public display' at food stalls. Vendors had been asked to adhere to the instructions within 15 days or face penalties.
The Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) had also launched a drive to remove non-vegetarian food carts arguing that they were encroaching on the roads and that the display of non-vegetarian food was hurting the religious sentiments of vegetarians.
Bhavnagar Municipal Corporation’s standing committee had also announced that the civic body would start removing all the carts selling non-vegetarian food from the roads.
(With inputs from The Indian Express.)