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Nine in India arrested after 'moral policing' of Karachi Bakery staff: report

Updated February 24, 2019

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Some people had gathered at the Indiranagar outlet of Karachi Bakery on Friday evening to demand that it pull down its signboard. Subsequently, photos showing the word "Karachi" covered up on the signboard and an Indian flag displayed at the bakery started making rounds on social media. ─ Photo courtesy Twitter
Some people had gathered at the Indiranagar outlet of Karachi Bakery on Friday evening to demand that it pull down its signboard. Subsequently, photos showing the word "Karachi" covered up on the signboard and an Indian flag displayed at the bakery started making rounds on social media. ─ Photo courtesy Twitter

Police on Saturday arrested nine men after they allegedly harassed staff at the Karachi Bakery in Bengaluru, India to force them to remove 'Karachi' from its name, the Deccan Herald reported.

According to Scroll.in, some people had gathered at the Indiranagar outlet of the popular bakery on Friday evening to demand that it pull down its signboard. Subsequently, photos showing the word "Karachi" covered up on the signboard and an Indian flag displayed at the bakery started making rounds on social media.

Police rushed to the spot after bakery staff alerted them, but the men were able to escape. They were tracked down with the help of CCTV footage, the Deccan Herald reported.

The arrested, believed to be residents of Halasuru and surrounding areas, were identified as Babaji, Srihari, Praveen, Sreeyappa, Shivakumar, Gunashekar, Lakshman, Sanjay and Naveen. They were booked by police for rioting and criminal breach of trust.

Seven of the suspects claim to be "social workers" but do not have ties to any such organisations. The Herald reported that they justified their actions by saying they were "patriots" who had been protesting against the Pulwama attack.

Police admonished the arrested suspects for indulging in moral policing and taking the law into their own hands. Investigations are ongoing into the involvement of more people in the incident.

Police have also set up pickets near the bakery and other sensitive areas to avoid similar occurrences, the Herald reported.

Speaking to The News Minute, the [manager of the Karachi Bakery][3] outlet had said: "The mob stayed for about half an hour. They demanded us to change the name. The men claimed to know people in the army. They thought we are from Pakistan. But we have been using this name for the last 53 years. The owners are Hindus; only the name is Karachi bakery. To satisfy them, we put up the Indian flag."

What's in a name

According to the website, Karachi Bakery was founded by Khanchand Ramnani, who migrated to India during the Partition in 1947. The bakery’s first outlet was opened in Hyderabad and has grown into a nationwide franchise. The bakery is popular for its fruit biscuits.

Other Bengaluru outlets of the bakery have been receiving threatening calls since February 17 from groups demanding that the firm should change its name or shut down the business, the publication quoted employees as saying.

Following the protests against the bakery in India, people on Twitter shared photos of the popular Bombay Bakery in Pakistan's Hyderabad, highlighting how the word 'Bombay' was very much still there.

The incident comes in the wake of the Pulwama bombing in occupied Kashmir on February 14, which killed more than 40 Indian troops. Pakistan and India's relations have been tense since the attack, with the latter blaming the former of being complicit in the attack — a charge Islamabad has denied from the get-go.

On Wednesday, a Pakistani prisoner was allegedly beaten to death by a group of inmates at the Jaipur Central Jail. The incident was reported by the Indian media as part of the aftermath of the Pulwama bombing.