Even after the owner of restopub Social Goregaon agreed to remove all objectionable items and writings from the property, the Watchdog Foundation, which claims to work for the interest of the Catholic Community, is persistent in taking the case forward. Following the FIR under Section 295 A, which the organisation filed on November 2, against the owner of Social Goregaon for its décor that is “blasphemous and hurts the religious sentiments of the Christian community”, Watchdog Foundation today filed a complaint at Dindoshi police station demanding that arrests be made in the case.
In a letter addressed to the senior police inspector, members of the organisation alleged that the owner, Riyaaz Amlani, intended to hurt the community’s sentiments by designing the pub as a church. In their allegation, they cited pictures of the restopub from a website, pointing out that the images do not have the stainglass paintings of the Christian saints or any writings on the wall.
“Therefore, when the authorities might have visited, everything was found clear and as such the required permissions and approvals might have been given to the said pub. Therefore subsequently adding of objectionable material in the said pub was done intentionally by the owner to avoid detection by the authorities,” read an excerpt from the letter.
The group has also filed RTIs to probe the permissions granted to the pub and to further strengthen their case, cited a notice by the health department of BMC sent to the pub regarding certain irregularities.
“The owner says the concept of the pub was ‘church of consumerism’. But these pictures and his interview on a website show that he knew the design of the pub will offend people. He is not innocent and that is why we demand his arrest,” said Nicholas Almeida of Watchdog Foundation.
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Amlani, however, said he has apologised and attempted to pacify the community by agreeing to remove any item or writing that may offend the community. “I sent a letter of apology also to the Archdiocese of Bombay, which has accepted our apology. Beyond that, I refuse to engage with the group, which is displaying violent behavior even after the highest church in the city has forgiven us,” he said. The Archdiocese has said they accept the apology and will monitor the situation till everything offensive is removed.
Responding to the organisation’s attempt to highlight the BMC notice received by the restaurant, Amlani said the notice is not supposed to be in public domain. “If there are alleged violations, there is a due process, which we will follow,” Amlani asserted.