A banner put up by a restaurant in Gujarat’s Surat city about a Pakistani food festival was torn down and set on fire on Monday by members of Hindutva group Bajrang Dal, the Deccan Herald reported.
A video of incident showed a group of men shouting “Jai Shri Ram” as the banner went up in flames.
The Bajrang Dal said it learnt about the hoarding put by Taste of India, which runs several restaurants in Surat, from social media. Former Surat city councillor Aslam Cyclewala, who is member of the Congress, had shot a video of the banner and uploaded it on Facebook.
Deviprasad Dubey, a Bajrang Dal leader in Surat, said that after seeing social media posts about the food festival, he and his and associates went to the restaurant and took the hoarding down.
The group asked the restaurant’s owner, Sandeep Dawer, why he had organised a Pakistani food festival, The Indian Express reported. “We also told him that between December 12 and 22 [the dates for the food festival], we would send our volunteers [to the restaurant] secretly,” Dubey added.
The Bajrang Dal leader said he and his associates told Dawer that if Pakistani food was served at the restaurant, he would be “responsible for the consequences”.
Cyclewala, the former Surat councillor, said the licence of the restaurant should be cancelled, The Indian Express reported. He claimed that the restaurant owner had close links with the Bharatiya Janata Party and it was unlikely that any action would be taken against him.
“Had such a festival been organised by any Muslim owner of a restaurant, what would have been the consequences?” Cyclewala asked.
After pressure, Dawer said his restaurant has cancelled the Pakistani food festival and will instead organise a seafood festival, The Indian Express reported.
However, he sought to clarify that his restaurant was not against Pakistan.
“We are against their political system that is against India,” Dawer told The Indian Express.
The owner added: “Food is common everywhere in the world. We have not invited any Pakistani cuisine chef, but our staff had, through online videos, prepared a menu for the food lovers.”