A protest has erupted in Muzaffarnagar district after all Muslim-owned hotels and dhabas along the route of the Kannur Yatra were closed for about 15 days, causing significant financial losses to their owners.
The closure of both veg and non-veg establishments, including vegetarian hotels owned by Muslims, has sparked controversy and led to demonstrations led by a Hindu saint, Swami Yashveer.
According to a report published by BBC, hotels and dhabas operated by Muslims were shut down during the Kannur Yatra, an annual pilgrimage in the region. Even vegetarian hotels, whose owners had Hindu names, faced forced closure during the two-week religious event.
City Magistrate Vikas Kashyap stated, “Last time there was an incident during the Kanodiyatra. This time a meeting of all the hotel owners was held, and they were instructed to reveal their true identities.”
However, Muzaffarnagar District Magistrate Arvind Bangari declined to comment, stating that the yatra is now over and there is no ongoing dispute.
One of the affected hotel owners, Sonu Pal, explained, “I am the owner of the hotel, but Muhammad Yusuf alias Guddu is the partner of the hotel. The land also belongs to a Muslim whose name is Alam. Everything from food license is done in my name, i.e., Sonu.” He expressed frustration over the sudden closure, which caused a loss of three to four lakhs, leaving around 30-35 staff members jobless.
The closure of Muslim-owned hotels, purportedly due to their Hindu names, has raised concerns about the treatment of minority communities in the region.
The Muzaffarnagar administration has not issued any written orders regarding the closure, but officials have confirmed that hotels owned by Muslims and operating under Hindu names were targeted.
In response to the situation, a Hindu saint Swami Yashveer has taken the lead in a campaign against Muslim-owned dhabas in Muzaffarnagar.
Swami Yashveer claims that many Muslim hotels are named after Hindu gods, leading Hindus to dine there, but he expressed distrust and alleged that some customers had indulged in inappropriate behaviour.
He also expressed concern over food quality and hygiene, claiming that these establishments might serve beef.
The issue has sparked debates about religious harmony and the right to run businesses without discrimination based on names or identities. Swami Yashveer said that he has no problem with Muslim-owned hotels running under their true identities.