July 03, 2020
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Temptations Of The Flesh

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Temptations Of The Flesh
The ‘vegetarian mafia’ in Mumbai is facing some beefy resistance and from totally unexpected quarters. As Gujarati-dominated housing societies are growing militant about ‘throwing out’ meat-eaters, the Shiv Sena has dug in its fangs on behalf of the meat-loving Marathi manoos. Armed with packets of the "fragrant" dry fish, the Bombil or Bombay Duck, Sainiks have started gheraoing the ‘veg’ buildings to demand an end to culinary discrimination. "We will open non-veg stalls next to such buildings," declared Sena leader Bala Kalsekar. His followers surrounded three buildings in upscale Malabar Hill and demanded a written undertaking that they would allow meat-eaters to move in.

The vegetarian lobby, backed by the moneyed Gujarati, Jain and Rajasthani communities, has been upping the ante on its drive for ‘cleansed’ neighbourhoods. There’s usually nothing on paper, but buildings dominated by these communities have supposedly turned away non-vegetarians—Christians, Muslims or meat-eating Hindus. Some are asking buyers to submit an undertaking declaring their vegetarianism. In Gujarati-dominated Walkeshwar, residents had forced a non-veg restaurant, Roti, to shut shop. Another casualty was the local Domino’s outlet.

As the "struggle" snowballs, friends find themselves on opposite sides. The bjp’s constituency of ‘pure veg’ Gujarati Jains and Rajasthanis are fighting Sena’s supporters who are largely non-veg Marathis. The issue reached a flashpoint with developers in Parel trying to shift a fish market in this Sena stronghold to make way for a new "vegetarians-only" building.

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