A Muslim restaurant owner has been arrested in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh for allegedly offending religious feelings by selling meat products wrapped in a newspaper with images of deities Hindus printed on it.
Talib Hussain was arrested in Sambhal following a complaint filed on Sunday by Kailash Gupta, chairman of the far-right Hindu district Hindu Jagran Manch. According to the police complaint, Mr Hussain allegedly attempted to attack officers with a knife at the time of the arrest.
A restaurant worker said his employer bought newspapers from a junkyard and used them to wrap food for customers, a common practice in all small restaurants. “We didn’t know the newspapers had images of Hindu gods. We didn’t want to hurt anyone,” the worker said. India time.
Mr Hussain had run the restaurant since 2012 and regularly used newspapers to wrap food, his family said.
“Does anyone look carefully at a newspaper’s headlines or photos before using it as a wrapper? Can someone be sent to prison for this? It has never hurt the feelings of person,” said the parent, quoted by the Indian daily.
Local police said Mr Hussain used newspapers to wrap food containing images of deities published daily in a Hindi language during the Hindu festival of Navratra.
He was convicted under three sections of Indian criminal law for “promoting enmity between different groups”, “deliberate act intended to outrage religious feelings” and “attempted murder”.
“We seized the offending material and as the matter is sensitive, we immediately filed a first information report and arrested the owner,” Circle Officer Jitendra Kumar said.
His arrest comes amid reports of a crackdown on minorities in the state led by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which authorized the demolition of several Muslim homes last month for allegedly being involved in riots sparked by derogatory remarks made against the Prophet Muhammad. .
Critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have accused the federal government of violating minority rights and orchestrating the erosion of religious freedom in India. The US State Department’s annual report on international religious freedom said religious minorities in India faced intimidation throughout 2021.
“Attacks against members of minority religious communities, including killings, assaults and intimidation, occurred throughout the year. These include incidents of ‘cow vigilantism’ against non-Hindus based on allegations of cow slaughter or beef trade,” the report said.