Hyderabad: What’s in a name? Ask the owners of Karachi Bakery, which has become the target of protests in India because of its Pakistani-sounding name.
As strong anti-Pakistan sentiments swept the country, in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama that killed 49 personnel of paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), a crowd threatened to vandalise a Karachi Bakery outlet in Bengaluru.
Even as staff tried to clarify the store’s name had nothing to do with the neighbouring country, protesters forced the management to cover the word “Karachi”, displayed on the signboard, with the Indian flag and warned them against removing the cover.
However in Hyderabad, where the Karachi Bakery originally started more than 60 years ago, everything was peaceful.
The main outlet at Moazzam Jahi Market, as well as those in other areas of the city including Banjara Hills and at Shamshabad International Airport Karachi Bakery, was doing brisk business as usual.
Not taking any chances, the owners of Karachi Bakery issued a clarification through social media and newspapers that the bakery was very much “Indian” and not Pakistani.
They also issued pamphlets and posted banners with the same explanation.
Harish Ramnani, managing partner of Karachi Bakery, said, “We are an Indian company based in Hyderabad, with branches all over the country. This is a 66-year-old brand and we don’t want to get into any kind of controversy. We are 100 per cent Indian”.
He recalled that his great-grandfather Karamchand Ramnani, who along with other family members had migrated from Karachi to India in 1947 at the time of partition, had moved to Hyderabad in 1953 and started the bakery.
“The bakery was named after Karachi due to sentimental reasons and to keep the memories of the past alive,” another family member said.
Little did the founder know that six decades later the name would become the subject of a raging controversy in a hate-filled atmosphere.
After the management sought protection, Bengaluru police arrested nine people, including seven self-described “social workers”, in connection with the incident.
The episode has also become a subject of animated discussion on social media.
Calling those objecting to the name of Karachi Bakery as “fake nationalists”, Twitter users pointed out that many establishments in Pakistan had Indian-origin names.
Peace activist Sudheendra Kulkarni posted a photo of the Bombay Bakery in Hyderabad, in Pakistan’s Sindh province and tweeted, “Fake patriots in Bengaluru who forced Karachi Bakery to erase name of Karachi should see this picture from Hyderabad [Sindh]”.
Prominent journalist Barkha Dutt also took to Twitter to ridicule the demand of miscreants. “I suppose next they will want to bomb Mysore Pak (a sweet)”.
Another journalist, Darain Shahidi wrote, “Next target Multani Mitti? After Karachi Bakery”.
“I am ashamed as an Indian that this is really happening”, user Oommen C. Kurian posted on twitter. In Pakistan, many social media users said there was a long list of eateries and hotels named after Indian cities like Bombay, Lucknow and Meerut.