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Surat: Bajrang Dal members burn ‘Pakistani food fest’ hoarding, ‘warn’ organiser – The Indian Express

A popular restaurant in Surat Monday was forced to cancel its Pakistani food festival owing to resistance from right-wing activists. The issue seems to be settled after Sandeep Dawer, owner of Taste of India, which operates a chain of restaurants in Surat, apologised on phone to right-wing activists and replaced the Pakistani food festival with a seafood festival.
The events unfolded Monday after former Surat city Congress councillor Aslam Cyclewala came across the Pakistani food festival hoarding at the restaurant near old sub-jail on Ring Road. He shot a video of it and shared it on Facebook Monday morning. The clip soon went viral and generated many hate messages.
By afternoon, members of Bajrang Dal were at the restaurant warning the staff against the Pakistani food festival that was to be held between December 12 and 22. Later, the members went to the top of the building and brought down the hoarding and burnt it in front of the public.
“We got to know about the hoarding from social media following which we took permission from the South Gujarat Convenor Dinesh Navadiya. Later, we went to the spot and brought down the hoarding. We also called Dawer, the owner, and asked him why he has organised such a food festival. He apologised. We also told him that between December 12 and 22, we would send our volunteers secretly. If Pakistani food is served, then he would be responsible for the consequences,” said Surat city Bajrang Dal leader Deviprasad Dubey.
Dawer, on his part, justified the food festival. “We organise different food festivals as per states and country at our restaurant. We are not against Pakistan but we are against their political system that is against India. Food is common everywhere in the world. We have not invited any Pakistani cuisine chef, but our staff had, through online videos, prepared a menu for the food lovers. We have cancelled the Pakistani food festival and in its place, switched over to a seafood festival,” he said.
Adding more political and communal hue to the incident, Cyclewala asked if why a complaint was not lodged in the incident. “How can such a food festival be organised? We want the licence of the restaurant to be cancelled. Police action should be taken. However, no action will be taken as Dawer, the owner, is close to BJP leaders in Surat. Had such a festival been organised by any Muslim owner of a restaurant, what would have been the consequences?” he said.
Dubey said the party has not registered any police complaint as it is waiting for a response from its leaders, “If they give us the green signal, we will register an offence,” he said.
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