Police to probe motive behind food bill message ‘defaming’ UPA

A day after Youth Congress members forced the owner of a Parel restaurant to remove a message allegedly defaming United Progressive Alliance (UPA) from food bills

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Updated: April 9, 2014 3:27:55 pm

A day after Youth Congress members forced the owner of a Parel restaurant to remove a message allegedly defaming United Progressive Alliance (UPA) from food bills,Mumbai Police decided Tuesday to probe the “motive” behind the message.

A few party workers who had gone to Aditi restaurant opposite KEM Hospital Monday afternoon noticed the message protesting the service tax levied by the central government on eating in air-conditioned (AC) restaurants.

The message read: “As per UPA govt,eating money (2G,coal,CWG scams) is a necessity & eating food in an AC restaurant is a luxury.”

The Youth Congress members demanded the restaurant owner,Shrinivas Shetty,immediately remove the message,tender an apology and down shutters. They also lodged a complaint at Bhoiwada police station.

At 4 pm,Ganesh Kumar Yadav,city president of Youth Congress,MLA Kalidas Kolambkar and a few other senior members shouted slogans against the restaurant management.

Police said they threatened and asked Shetty to down shutters.

“On the allegations of Congress members we registered an NC (non-cognisable offence) against the restaurant under IPC Section 501. The restaurant was shut as its owner and manager were at the police station,” said Pravin Salunke,additional commisisoner of police (central region).

“After the owner removed the message,the restaurant began functioning normally,” he said.

Bhoiwada police have now decided to investigate the case and record statements of Shetty and others. They will also probe if an outsider is behind the alleged defamatory propaganda.

“Shetty does not want to lodge a complaint against the Congress members,” Salunke said.

“About 10 men protested at the restaurant. They did not damage anything,” said Sunil Tondwalkar,senior inspector,Bhoiwada police station.

“We have booked 10 unidentified men under Bombay Police Act for illegal assembly. No arrests have been made,” he said.

A restaurant employee said: “We did not think the message will offend anyone. The men told us politely to remove the message and we did. We did not have to close the restaurant. We downed shutters for an hour Monday evening and resumed business as usual after that.”

Association of Hotels And Restaurants (AHAR) distanced itself from the episode.

Its general secretary Shashikant Shetty said the message on food bills was the restaurant owner’s personal opinion.

“Shrinivas Shetty is a member of AHAR and we had rushed to Bhoiwada police station,” he said.

“We have been writing to the government explaining that the service tax is unfair and have also filed a writ petition in High Court,” said Shashikant.

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