A Muslim shopkeeper in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh was detained after a First Information Report (FIR) was filed against him for selling a shoe whose sole had the name Thakur ― a so-called upper caste ― embossed on it. He was released later and handed over to his relatives late 5 January night.
The police detained shopkeeper Nasir after a complaint by Vishal Chauhan, a leader of a right-wing outfit in the area. Nasir faces serious charges like promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion, causing hurt and intentionally insulting someone resulting in breach of public peace. The right-wing leader’s complaint mentions an unnamed shoe company.
“A case has been filed under relevant sections at the concerned police station. The named accused is in the custody of the police and an investigation is on,” the Uttar Pradesh Police tweeted on 5 January before he was released.
The man has been told that he will be called to the police station again, if required, for questioning.
The FIR says that when the complainant went to Nasir’s roadside shop on 4 January, he saw a shoe with the word ‘Thakur’ embossed on its sole. The FIR says that when the complainant objected, Nasir allegedly started abusing and assaulting him.
However, a 58-second-long video from the time of the incident that was shared widely on social media shows a group of men surrounding the shopkeeper. “Am I manufacturing these shoes?” Nasir said. A voice, not in the frame, replied, “Then why have you brought them here?” No assault or abuse can be seen or heard in this video.
Another 36-second-long clip shows policemen outside the shop.
In another tweet, the police appeared to concede that if they had not detained the shoe seller, a lot of people would have “reacted badly”.
A footwear company by the same name is based out of a city known to be a shoe manufacturing hub. The company has been in operation for 40 years, sources said, but they were not sure the shoe that caused the fracas is a product of that company.