Chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Har Har Mahadev’ at the same time, Bajrang Dal activists in Gujarat on Monday tore apart banners of a ‘Pakistani Food Festival’ put up by a restaurant and set them on fire in the middle of the busy Ring Road in Surat.
While ‘Jai Shri Ram’ is a usual slogan at such saffron protests, Monday’s Bajrang Dal demonstrations also had ‘Har Har Mahadev’ chants. This was just around the same time Prime Minister Narendra Modi presided over the high-octane Kashi Vishwanath event in Varanasi during the day. It was telecast live for almost the entire day by TV channels, while at several places local BJP offices also organised special screening sessions.
Taste of India is owned by Sanjay Dawar, who is known to be close to the BJP in Surat. His restaurant is a popular multi-cuisine restaurant known for its non-veg dishes on the Ring Road dotted with hundreds of textile markets. It had launched a 10-day Pakistani Food Festival beginning Sunday and put up banners in the evening.
Interestingly, Bajrang Dal activists came to know of this through a Facebook post by senior Surat Congress leader Aslam Cyclewala, who criticised the restaurant for holding a Pakistani festival.
The saffron activists swooped down on the restaurant on Monday and took down the banners. They burnt them in the middle of the road.
Speaking to Vibes of India, Devi Prasad Dubey, one of the Bajrang Dal activists, asserted that, “Food festival or any activity in the name of Islamic terrorist and anti-India country like Pakistan will not be tolerated. We have also issued warning to the restaurant to ensure this does not happen again.”
Aslam Cyclewala, earlier GPCC secretary and former senior councilor in Surat, told Vibes of India, “Since the restaurant is owned by a close supporter of a powerful BJP leader, no official action has been taken against the eatery.
Cyclewala added, “Now, if this restaurant had been owned by an Abdulbhai or some Gaffurbhai, all hell would have broken loose and the place would have been sealed by now.”
Meanwhile, when contacted, an assistant at Taste of India told Vibes of India, “Sanjay Dawar-sir is out of the town and difficult to contact him. But the issue is over now, the restaurant is functioning normally.”
Asked about the menu at the Pakistani Food Festival, the assistant — requesting anonymity — said, “It was the same food that is there on our menu card. The problem was only the name, Pakistani Food Festival.”