A First Information Report (FIR) has been registered against some shop owners in Nalanda in Bihar, for sporting saffron flags on the shops. The FIR was lodged after a complaint was lodged by a block officer named Rajiv Ranjan at the Laheri Police station in Biharsharif on April 20.
He has alleged that the local Bajrang Dal members have urged Hindus in the area to buy essential commodities such as fruits, vegetables, and ration from shops that have sported saffron flags or are run by other Hindus. Rajiv has also claimed in his police complaint that such alleged activities may disturb the ‘communal harmony’ in the locality.
He has further accused one Twitter user (@RahulPrince1432) of asking people to sport saffron flags and uploading several pictures of such Hindu shops. Rajiv had asked the cops, in his letter, to lodge an FIR against the Twitter user and 5 unidentified people.
In Bihar’s Nalanda, an FIR has been filed on complaint by block officer over saffron flags at Hindu shops. I was surprised to see IPC 295A applied, which is for hurting others’ religious sentiments.— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) April 26, 2020
The SHO cut my call when I asked this
Any legal opinion on this pls? pic.twitter.com/E0yI1P2IIX
The police have pressed charges under several Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections such as 147 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 153A (promoting enmity between religions), 188 (Disobedience) and 295A (Malicious act to outrage religious feelings). OpIndia could not reach the SHO of Laheri Police Station, despite several attempts. Swarajya magazine journalist Swati Goel Sharma, has said that the officer disconnected her on being asked about Section 295 A.
‘Hindu banners’ removed in Jharkhand
This is the second such incident of action taken against shops this week for displaying Hindu signages. On Saturday, a group of fruit sellers in Jamshedpur were booked by the city police for writing “Vishwa Hindu Parishad ki anumodit Hindu fal Dukan” which translates to “Hindu fruit shop approved by Vishwa Hindu Parishad”. In addition, the banners of the shop also carried the photos of Hindus deities– Lord Shiva and Lord Rama along with the phone numbers of the shop owners.
However, wearing one’s identity on their sleeves did not sit well with the Jamshedpur police which acted on a complaint raised by one Twitter user, Ahsan Razi, about the overt manifestation of religion by the shop owners. The police reached the spot and got the banners removed.
Both the incidents have created massive outrage on Social Media, with users pointing out that there are numerous shops everywhere in India which sport religious names and symbols. There are shops with names like Muslim Hotel, Jain Hotel etc. Shops owned by Muslims also generally have the number 786 written on their signage, but now police action being taken against Hindu shopowners for carrying religious identity.
BJP leader and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das informed that he met the fruitsellers and had a word with the authorities. “We have assured them of all possible help. Also talked to the police officers and there will not be any case on the fruit vendors,” he tweeted.