A Muslim shoe vendor in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr district was detained briefly on Tuesday after a complaint was filed that he was selling shoes with “Thakur” written on the soles, reported NDTV. “Thakur” refers to an upper-caste community in the state.
“Based on the complaint, an first information report has been lodged against the shoe vendor at the Gulawathi police station and the matter is being investigated,” Additional Superintendent of Police (City) Atul Kumar Srivastava said, according to India Today. “Further action would be taken on the basis of the probe.”
Vishal Chauhan, a leader of a right-wing outfit in the area, had filed the complaint against Nasir. He has also alleged that Nasir abused and assaulted him when he objected to the “Thakur” shoes. The complaint also mentioned a shoe company. However, it is not clear which footwear firm manufactured the shoes.
The roadside shoe vendor has now been slapped with charges like promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion, causing hurt and intentionally insulting someone resulting in breach of public peace.
Nasir was released later in the evening and handed over to his relatives, according to NDTV. He may be called for further questioning.
Meanwhile, a 58-second-long video showed a group of men surrounding the shopkeeper. “Am I manufacturing these shoes?” Nasir can be heard asking in the video. To this, a man, who is not in the frame, replied, “Then why have you brought them here?”
Another 36-second-long video clip shows policemen outside the shop. However, no assault or abuse can be seen or heard in the clips.
Bulandshahr Police defended the move to detain Nasir after outcry on social media. “Had the police not taken the action as per the legal system, many people would have reacted differently or in the wrong way [ulti ya bhinn pratikriya dete],”a tweet said. “Hence, the police have followed the rules and please look at it in the same way.”