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'Is This Jama Masjid?' Biryani Shop 'Forced' To Shut Down in Delhi on Diwali

Communal slurs were issued to a Muslim biryani seller on Diwali.

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'Is This Jama Masjid?' Biryani Shop 'Forced' To Shut Down in Delhi on Diwali
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A 31-year-old Muslim man, who runs a biryani shop in a market in north Delhi’s Burari, was forced to shut it down on Diwali evening, after being intimidated by a man, who claimed to be a part of a Hindu right-wing outfit.

DCP North, Sagar Singh Kalsi, said that a First Information Report (FIR) in the matter under Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) has been filed. The police are yet to zero down on the accused.

The incident took place around 6.30 pm on 4 November 2021, and a 2.46-minute-long video too has been shared with the Delhi Police.

The owner’s younger brother who runs the shop with him, on condition of anonymity, told The Quint, “We did not make a police complaint or a PCR call. The SHO paid a visit, but I have still not given a complaint copy… Hum panga nahi lena chahte hai (We don't want to take a risk).

In the video, the man questions the shop owner and other workers, “Dukaan kaise khol rakhi hai? Tujhe pata nahi hai aaj Hinduon ka tyohaar hai, aaj Diwali hai… Jama Masjid hai kya yeh? Total Hindu rehte hai yaha pe (How can you keep the shop open? Don't you know that today is a festival for Hindus, today is Diwali... Is this Jama Masjid? Total Hindus live here).

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In language loaded with expletives and communal slurs, the man further asks, “Teri Eid waale din agar teri masjid ke aage main suar kaatu toh tujhe acha lagega? (Would you like it if I butchered pigs in front of a mosque on the day of your Eid?)”

At the time of the incident, the 31-year-old owner and his employees were present in the shop. They closed the shop at the time as they didn't want to run the risk of any trouble.

The brother of the victim informed The Quint that after they shut the shop, neighbours and shopkeepers intervened to stop the harassment.

“We have not faced any trouble since I opened the shop here in 2014, and have opened it on all festivals. This was the first time something like this happened. Everyone is scared but a few Hindu neighbours and shopkeepers intervened and made the person who was intimidating my brother and employees go away. They stood by them like a rock.”
Brother of the biryani shop owner

The next day, when the biryani shop opened again, a Hindu neighbour, who is a property dealer in the area, showed up in solidarity.

The victim’s neighbour told The Quint, “All shops are open on all festivals so why single out one just because of the religion of the shopkeeper? He has only opened the shop. He is not forcing anyone to consume meat. We asked that person to leave and not trouble him. We are here with our brother, that’s why I am in the shop today.”

In the 2.46-minute-long video, the camera pans towards the crowd, and the intimidator can be heard propagating anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, saying: “Humaare Hinduo ko dekho! Sab soye huye hai… Jaag jaao, yeh saare love jihad karte hai humaare area mein aake, humaari behen betiyo ko Rahul bann ke… Aise phasate hai yeh ladkiyo ko (Look at our Hindus. They are all asleep... Wake up, these people do love jihad after coming to our area, they go after our sisters and daughters calling themselves Rahul... This is how they trap girls)

A day after the incident, when it was brought to the notice of the police, DCP (North) Sagar Singh Kalsi said, “As of now, no PCR call or complaint has been received at the Burari police station, however, facts are being verified. Legal action will be taken as per law.”

The accused identified himself as Naresh Kumar Suryavanshi, and the victim's brother and Hindu neighbour told The Quint that he said he was a part of a Hindu right-wing outfit. A senior police officer said, "We are in the process of identifying the accused as of now."

The shopkeeper said that the SHO asked for a written complaint, which he refused to give. “He reassured us that we are safe, and that if there’s any trouble, we should get in touch with him. If this happens again, we will go to the police but as of now, I don’t want any more trouble.”

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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