A plateful of biryani and some heartburn

A plateful of biryani and some heartburn

Block number 27 of the riot-hit Trilokpuri area remains engulfed in heated debates. The buzz this time around is about the new biryani shop that opened in a Hindu-dominated locality of the area, this week.

Owned by 45-year-old Lala Ram, the new venture has found few takers among members of the minority community. Many here see the restaurant as a ‘threatening message’ rather than an eatery.

To compound matters, the decreased profits of some shops owned by the minority community have added to the paranoia.

“We are hearing that people are selling korma and other Muslim delicacies, like biryani, with an intention to hurt our business. Even my business has suffered a lot. My customers have decreased drastically, even though normalcy seems to have returned to this area,” said Mohammad Iftikhar who runs a grocery shop in the Muslim-dominated Block-27. “We are being replaced,” he claimed.

According to Sameer, a local chicken vendor, post-riots many shops selling meat have also sprung up in the Hindu-dominated blocks of Trilokpuri area.

“There is no doubt that business has been slow ever since the clashes started, but our shop is picking up pace. However, every now and then we keep hearing news that there are plans to set up new shops which would sell meat and chicken. Personally, I believe that this is being done to increase hatred among the communities which have been living peacefully for a long time,” Sameer told Metrolife.

While preparing biryani at his shop in Block-28, Lala Ram told Metrolife that the only reason for setting up a biryani shop was to support his family.

“I have been working as a private contractor in the garbage removal industry for almost two decades. This shop seems to be a better option as my two sons have grown and they could help me in business,” Ram said.  

Hopeful that members from both communities would visit his eatery as customers, Ram remained concerned about the “growing suspicions among the Muslim community.” He claimed that since his shop opened on the 15th of this month, “not more than 30 people had come to eat.”

Several other residents, while talking to this paper, had their own theories about the ever decreasing business in the Trilokpuri area. Fear, however, topped the list of almost all the locals.

“People are afraid and they don’t come out of their homes in the evenings. I have owned this shop for 25 years now, and never have I closed it before 11 in the evening. We are now forced to close it down by 7pm,” said 60-year-old Shiv Charan, another grocery seller.

Farzana Khatoon, who owns a showroom for branded clothes and accessories in Block-20 even claimed there is a “deliberate effort to increase religious rancour by sabotaging business ties between the two religious communities.”  

“Rumours have been floating around the area that meetings are being held with an aim to isolate our community, by not buying our products,” Farzana alleged. “On normal days we used to sell goods worth Rs 10,000 and now we have been struggling to reach the Rs 4,000 mark,” she added.

While biryani might have become a new source of controversy for many in Trilo­kpuri, Asif and Ramesh, two vegetable vendors who jointly sell cauliflower, seemed to be content with selling
vegetables.

“Yes, we heard about the biryani episode. It seems we are lucky to be selling vegetables,” Ramesh said cheerfully.

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