Uttar Pradesh: Hindutva goons force Muslim man to shut shop named after Sai Baba

The mob claimed that 'Sai Baba is a Hindu deity' and harassed the Muslim owner at his 15-year-old shop; police allegedly reacted late

Hindutva goons force Muslim man to shut shop named after Sai Baba

A 15-year-old juice shop called ‘New Sai Juice Centre’, and its Muslim owner, Shabbu Khan,were attacked by a Hindutva group in the Majhola area of Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad district. According to a report in Deccan Herald, the shop was vandalised and forcefully shut down by the mob who claimed allegiance to the Bajrang Dal.  Khan told the media that he was “about to have dinner at home on Thursday when I was shocked to learn that a few people were vandalising my shop. They asked me to close my shop because of my faith. This shop is part of my life and my family.”

The goons had claimed that “Sai Baba is a Hindu deity” and the Muslim owner should change its name. They also allegedly threatened to shut all shops run by Muslims and named after Hindu deities in the locality. 

While this attack took place over a week ago, the FIR was reportedly registered much later against the Bajrang Dal leader Navneet Sharma, and his aides for “rioting and criminal intimidation”. According to the news report, the FIR was registered only after videos of the incident began circulating on social media. It was also reported that even the police “advised” Khan to change the shop’s name “to avoid further trouble.”  Locals of the area told the media that police had initially remained a mute spectator while all this was going on and and later put the onus of “avoiding trouble” on Shabbu Khan. The Majhola Station house officer (SHO) Dhananjay Singh said, “We found that about 20-25 people, led by Navneet Sharma, had forcefully closed the juice shop. They also slapped its owner. We have registered an FIR under IPC sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 147 (rioting) against Sharma and his aides.” 

As is the standard operating procedure now used by right-wing goons, a complaint was also lodged by the right-wing activists against Khan but police told the media that the complaint against the shopkeeper is “not convincing enough as the man has been running the shop for 15 years and there has been no issue so far.”  None of those who attacked Khan’s shop and threatened him have been arrested yet.

Hindutva goons use Sai Baba as a pawn to attack citizens

In April 2021, Padam Panwar was accused of allegedly demolishing a Sai Baba idol at a temple in Delhi’s Shahpur Jat, and arrested. The 50-year-old Panwar was a temple committee member and was arrested for allegedly making “derogatory” remarks and “removing” the idol of Sai Baba from the temple. Police had acted on a complaint filed by Sai Baba devotees who were upset after a video of the purported removal of the idol surfaced on social media. The video showed a man “supervising” the removal of the idol and also making disparaging comments against Sai Baba, who is revered by lakhs. Delhi police lodged an FIR under the charges of deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs and of promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, etc and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.

The sage Sai Baba of Shirdi holds a special place in the hearts of devotees, but his idol was allegedly removed from the Purana Shiv Mandir in Shahpur Jat area on March 25. According to multiple news reports quoting local residents, it  was replaced with a Ganesh idol. Padam Panwar allegedly said, “He was no God, he died in 1918, he was a Muslim…”

Hindutva mascot Narsinghanand Saraswati calls Sai baba a Muslim, and fraud

Padam Panwar was reportedly close to Hindutva mascot Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati who is well known for his hate speeches against Muslims. Narsinghanand was seen in a video reportedly congratulation and blessing the Panwar for “breaking and throwing away” the idol of “pakhandi Sai” (fraudster Sai), and saying, “If I had my way, jihadis like Sai won’t be able to enter temples.” Narsinghanand told the media persons, “Sai Baba was a pindari lootera (lawless raider). His name was Chand Khan. He was a jihadi. It is the madness of our Hindus that he is now in our temples.” 



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