A restaurant owner named Mr. Talib Hussain from Uttar Pradesh was detained on charges of offending religious sensitivities by serving meat wrapped in a newspaper that had images of Hindu gods printed on it.
Kailash Gupta, the district head of the extreme right-wing Hindu organisation Hindu Jagran Manch, filed a complaint on Sunday that led to Mr. Hussain’s detention in Sambhal. The police complaint claims that Mr. Hussain attempted to use a knife to stab police officers at the time of the arrest.
As is customary in all small diners, a staff member of the restaurant said that his employer had purchased newspapers from a scrap yard and had been using them to package meals for clients.
According to the employee, they did not intentionally try to hurt the religious sentiments of anyone as per reports by The Times of India. In his words, “We did not realise that the newspapers had pictures of Hindu gods. We didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.”
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According to his family and relatives, Mr. Hussain has been handling the restaurant since 2012 and often utilised newspapers to package meals. In the words of a relative of his, “Does anyone look at the headlines of a newspaper or the photos carefully before using it as a wrapper? Can anyone be sent to jail for this? He has never hurt anyone’s sentiments.”
According to the local police station, Mr. Hussain has been using newspapers with images of Hindu gods published previously during the Hindu holiday of Navratri to pack food. He has been currently arrested as per three sections of the Indian Penal Act – “deliberate act intended to outrage religious feelings”, “attempt to murder” and “promoting enmity between different groups”.
However, critics of the ruling party are of the opinion that the government allegedly violates the rights of minorities and is responsible for India’s eroding religious freedom.
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