A Muslim eatery owner was arrested in Uttar Pradesh’s Sambhal on Sunday for selling meat dishes wrapped in newspaper that had images of Hindu deities printed on them.
Mohammad Talib was arrested on a complaint by Hindutva group Hindu Jagran Manch district president Kailash Gupta, reported The Times of India. A first information report alleged that Talib also tried to attack police officers with a knife when they came to arrest him, reported PTI.
He has been booked under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence), 295A (deliberate act intended to outrage religious feelings of any community) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.
A family member of Talib told The Times of India that newspapers have been used to pack food items at eateries for years.
“Does anyone look at the headlines of a newspaper or the photos carefully before using it as a wrapper?” he asked. “Can anyone be sent to jail for this? He has never hurt anyone’s sentiments.”
A worker at Mehak Restaurant, the eatery owned by Talib, said that his employer had bought newspapers from a scrap shop and was using them to pack food items for customers just as other establishments do.
“It is a normal practice, but we did not realise that the newspapers had pictures of Hindu gods,” he told The Times of India. “We didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.”
A police officer said that a newspaper with pictures of Hindu deities published during the festival of Navratri was found at the eatery.
“After receiving a complaint on Sunday evening, police rushed to the hotel and seized the offensive material,” said Circle Officer Jitendra Kumar. “Since the matter is sensitive, we immediately registered an FIR and arrested the eatery owner for hurting the religious sentiments of a particular community.”