Mumbai’s famous Karachi Bakery shut down recently due to business losses, The Times of India reported on Thursday. Last year, the iconic bakery was embroiled in a controversy as workers from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and Shiv Sena criticised it for what they claimed was a “Pakistani name”.
“We shut shop after the old lease agreement lapsed,” Rameshwar Waghmare, the bakery’s manager, told The Times of India. “Our landlord had been demanding a higher sum as rent, which was unviable for us. The lockdown had already caused business volumes to drop.”
However, the MNS claimed credit for the bakery closing down. On Wednesday, MNS Vice President Haji Saif Shaikh tweeted saying, “After massive protest for its name, Karachi Bakery finally closes its only shop in Mumbai.”
But Waghmare clarified that the decision was based on business factors. “There was no reason to capitulate by changing our name,” he told The Times of India. “The bakery was a legitimate business with all valid licences and approvals. Our decision is based on business factors. Let others take credit for it if they wish.”
Waghmare said the owner will decide whether to rent a new space or allow the brand to lapse in Mumbai. An ice cream parlour has currently come up in its place.
The Karachi bakery is part of the Hyderabad-based chain run by a Sindhi Hindu migrant family, the Ramnanis, from Pakistan. The confectionery has branches all over India.
Shaikh and his supporters had harassed workers at the Karachi Bakery outlet in Bandra in November. They had asked the owners to change its name, which they alleged was “anti-national” and “unpatriotic”. Shaikh had even sent a legal notice to Karachi Bakery. “It is a matter of public record that there are tensions between India and Pakistan because of Pakistan’s illegal occupation of land in Kashmir known as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK),” read the legal notice, according to The Quint.
The same month, a Shiv Sena leader was seen threatening the owner of the Mumbai shop, asking him to change the name of the store. In a video posted on politician Nitin Nandgaonkar’s Facebook page, he is seen speaking to the owner of the store in Bandra West. The Sena leader asked the shop owner to change the store’s name to “something in Marathi”. However, party leader Sanjay Raut said that this was not an official demand by his organisation. The store had reportedly covered its name with newspaper after Nandgaonkar’s visit.