Two days after local traders, predominantly belonging to the minority community, joined a nationwide bandh in protest against the Citizenship Amemdment Act (CAA), photographs of several businesses whose owners joined the bandh are being widely shared on social media urging people to boycott these establishments.
The message, which seems to have originated from several social media accounts supporting the CAA, termed the traders who joined the bandh on January 29 as “anti-nationals” and exhorted people to stop purchasing goods from their shops so that “they remain shut for ever”.
In the initial posts, those in favour of CAA put up photos of the establishments shut in solidarity with the bandh call. However, later on other supporters began updating the list of such establishments by putting up more photos along with the names of the owners while urging for a boycott.
“Yeh hai gaddar, ab to bahiskar karo inka, hinduon ke virodh main hotel bandh hain, toh inke pass hamesha ke liye khana khana bandh karo. Dekh lo ye hai kattar mussalmano ke hotel. Hamesha ke liye yaad rakho tumhareliye aur tumhare ane wali pidi ke liye acha hoga. Hindu abhi bhi nahi sudrey toh marna tai hai… ye log toh ekjoot hogaya hai… (These are the traitors, now at least we need to boycott them. The restaurants are shut against Hindus, so we should forever stop eating in these establishments. Have a look at the radical Muslims restaurants. Remember this forever so that this would be better for you and for your next generation. If Hindus don’t learn from this then they are doomed as these people have banded together…),” the message read.
Among the names that are called to be boycotted are Vadodara’s popular grocery store Dabhoiwalla and several highway eateries from Vapi to Vadodara. While the posts were widely shared on social networking sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, Vadod-ara police said they did not have any knowledge of such posts.
In December 2019, the Vadodara cyber police booked a an activist from Muslim community for giving a similar message to the Muslim community to boycott professionals supporting the CAA. Zuber Goplani was booked by the police after he exhorted people from the Muslim community to boycott nearly 15 specialists doctors from Vadodara and Anand district after they openly expressed support to CAA.
Commissoner of police Vadodara, Anupam Singh Gahlaut told this newspaper that the action in case of Goplani’s post was initiated after receiving a complaint from one of the individual doctors who was named in the post. “The cases are different. Goplani posted a message that was directly naming professionals and promoting enmity between communities. However, we have not come across any posts against traders who joined the anti-CAA bandh on January 29. We also haven’t received any complaint of being threatened by such posts. If anybody files a complaint, we will take action.”
Meanwhile, traders whose establishments are named in the posts, said that they are not inclined to file a complaint as it is “not in our best interests to do so”. “My family and friends have advised to let the issue go… filing a police complaint would make the issue bigger,” said a trader from Vadodara on condition of anonymity. He added, “I don’t think naming our establishments like these is going to affect our business. I joined the anti-CAA protest as we believe that the act is unjust as it does not include our community.”
On January 30, BJP municipal councilor in Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC), Vijay Chaumal, raised the issue of shopkeepers who kept their units closed the previous day in the general board meeting of the corporation. “Those shopkeepers should be boycotted. Time has come to identify such people and teach them a lesson. CAA is for Hindus who faced injustice in neighbouring countries. In India, anti-social elements are opposing CAA and they are supported by a national political party,” Chaumal said at the meeting.
The statement was objected by Congress councillors saying it was a platform of SMC and only issues related to it should be discussed. Congress councillor Aslam Cyclewala said, “The mayor and other leaders agreed that only issues related to municipal corporation should be discussed in the general board.”
Choumal stood by what he said at the board meeting and told The Indian Express, “I sought boycott of shops that supported the bandh on Janiuary 29… CAA is for those non-Muslims who faced injustice in neighbouring countries. The bandh was supported by the Congress party and I was targeting them.”
(With inputs from Surat)
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