The Chennai Police have arrested Prasanth, the owner of a bakery, for issuing an advertisement that boasted that the shop did not employ any Muslim staff, News18 reported on Sunday. The owner of Jain Bakeries & Confectioneries was booked under Section 295 of the Indian Penal Code, which relates to hurting religious sentiments, and Section 504, which relates to intent to breach peace.
The advertisement put out by the bakery, located in Chennai’s T Nagar area, read: “Made by Jains on orders, No Muslim staffs.” After it went viral on social media, the police swung into action.
However, the staff at the outlet claimed that the advertisement was not intended to create a communal rift. They claimed that a message doing the rounds on WhatsApp had asked people not to buy bakery products made by Muslims, and thus they put up the advert to “clear the air”.
“He [the bakery owner] operates a home bakery and the advertisement was circulated on WhatsApp group for people from Jain community in Chennai,” Mambalam Police Station Inspector S Balamurali told The News Minute. “He would receive orders on the app and would bake the items at home and then deliver. When the advertisement came to my knowledge, I took suo motu action.” Balamurali added that Prasanth was currently out on bail.
Muslims have been the target of hate crimes ever since a meeting of a group known as the Tablighi Jamaat in New Delhi in March resulted in a huge number of coronavirus cases around the country.
Fake videos on social media platforms have claimed to show Muslim men spitting on food, licking plates and sneezing in unison to spread the virus. Even the Bharatiya Janata Party’s IT Cell has blamed Muslims for spreading the pandemic.
In several places, this has resulted in violence. On April 7, rumours about Muslim men intentionally spitting to spread the virus reportedly led to group clashes in Jharkhand’s Gumla district. A youth was beaten to death and two others were injured in the incident.