The Delhi Minorities Commission on Wednesday issued show-cause notices to the mayors and commissioners of the three municipal corporations in the city, asking them to explain the rationale behind an unofficial ban on meat shops during Navratri, PTI reported.

The panel took suo motu cognisance of the matter based on media reports.

On Monday, the mayors of south and east Delhi asked their municipal corporations to shut meat shops during the nine-day Hindu festival. While the civic bodies have not yet issued official orders to this effect, the letters from the mayors caused fear and uncertainty among meat shop owners.

The mayor of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation has not called for such a ban till now.

Navratri began on April 2 and will go on till April 11

Zakir Khan, the chairperson of the Delhi Minorities Commission, asked the mayors and commissioners of the three municipal corporations to file their response on the matter. He also asked them to appear before the panel on Friday.

South Delhi Mayor Mukkesh Suryaan, in his letter to the municipal commissioner, had said that meat shops would offend religious beliefs and sentiments of Hindus. Suryaan, who is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, had also said that during Navratri, devotees of goddess Durga observe fasts and avoid meat, alcohol and certain spices.

“News reports about the subject have...observed that the mayor is acting as a law unto himself,” the minorities commission said. “What he is calling for violates the basic [freedoms] guaranteed in the Constitution.”

In the past two days, several opposition leaders have criticised the BJP in connection with the letters by the mayors.

On Wednesday, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra said the Constitution allows her to eat meat whenever she likes and gives shopkeepers the freedom to run their business.

Congress leader Salman Nizami had called out the BJP for being “hypocritical” about its stance on meat. “They have problem with meat shops in South Delhi, but promises quality beef in North East and Goa,” Nizami wrote on Twitter. “Hypocrisy thy name is BJP!”