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Why question our patriotism because of biryani, asks Mewat Muslim

MEWAT,CHHAVI BHATIA: This Eid the Haryana district that made national headlines after state police clamped down on local biryani sellers for mixing beef in their fare, is going about its day. Men clad in white kurta-pajama, dhoti and tehmat complete the namaz in an eidgah in one of the villages before they step out to relish the traditional fare of kheer. “No biryani!”, shouts a young guy barely out of his teens as he sees us trying to strike a conversation with a group of men huddled in a corner, smoking beedis. “It has been a circus for the past one week. We have cops and media people visiting us every few hours. Even if they make veiled reference to biryani policing, we know what they mean,” says Almaludin Siya, a villager from Baded.

The Mewat-Nuh main highway, which is donned with biryani sellers every few metres looks conspicuously deserted, barring a few cops resting in the shade of trees outside a mosque on the highway. “The sellers are busy with Eid celebrations,”says a constable who declines to share his name. Sub-inspector Tara Chand who is on “special” Eid duty is more forthcoming, “We received tip-offs from our sources, and took some samples for test.

Since the matter was gaining momentum and may have snowballed into law and order problem, we advised them to pack up their stuff.” Are there any written complaints before the police act? “No, we act as per our mukhbirs.

Earlier, ‘these’ people used to slaughter in jungles, which made it easy to catch them. Now, all this is happening within the four walls of their homes. We file a DDR(daily diary report) before proceeding with sample test,”reveals another cop.

The mood is festive in Ghasada, a Mewat village. After cops turned biryani vigilante in the area, one would expect a palpable anxiety and animosity, to say the least, among villagers. None found till now. Village elderlies are smoking hookah, greeting friends, blessing the young. News has reached here that the samples taken by the authorities have tested positive. Scratch a little and the angst and anger simmering among villagers, sprouts. “This is not true. We have been consuming biryani for ages now and never added beef to it. It is made of chicken. This is a ploy to defame Mewat and create a rift among Hindus and Muslims who have been living here like brethren for centuries now,” says Iqbal Kareem, one of the villagers. “We rear cows and they are as revered to us as to Hindus. By spreading rumours that we keep them for slaughtering, they are trying to portray us as anti-national,” chips in Yaseen Nizami, a tea seller.

The conversation assumes a sombre vein as the older men share how they are being victimised for being minority, “for being Muslim”. “There is no check on these self-styled gau rakshaks who harass us everyday. They loot our trucks of goats, chicken and sell them off for profit. If we refuse to give in, they demand money, threaten us with dire consequences. We have even been called kafirs. We are as Indian as anyone else living in this country.

Our religion has nothing to do with our patriotism,” contends Usman Dagar, adding that forefathers in Mewat fought the British and Mughals for the country.

To develop crack
Ramzan Chaudhary, a social worker in Nuh says that “few anti-social elements” on both the sides are trying to widen the fault lines. “They want to tear away the social fabric of our city, crucify Mewat residents on questionable patriotism. But they won’t be successful in disrupting peace,”he sages.

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