Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sweet mart chain drops `Karachi' from name

MUMBAI: Fearing an attack from Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) activists, the management of the Punjabi Chandu Halwai Karachiwala chain of sweet
shops has dropped `Karachiwala' from its signboards. The chain has 21 branches across the city.

"We don't want to take chances,'' one of the managers said. "After we learnt about the Mulund incident, where the owner of Karachi Sweet Mart was threatened by MNS activists, we decided to take precautions,'' he added.

"Who wants to invite trouble? If there is stone pelting on any of our outlets, it will affect our business,'' said a senior official from a Chandu sweetmeats shop. "We are a known brand. It is a temporary measure. If the issue dies down in the coming weeks, we may bring back Karachiwala on our signboards.''

MNS activist Shishir Shinde said he was not against any sweetmeat shop or its owners. "We don't want to bully or harass any shopkeeper. We are only opposed to the use of names of Pakistani cities in Mumbai,'' said Shinde. He added that the MNS would request other establishments such as cable companies, jewellery designers, restaurants, marriage halls, general stores and export houses to avoid using names like Lahore, Karachi, Multan and Peshawar.

"Pakistan has been responsible for several bomb blasts and more recently, the terror attack on Mumbai. The key accused, Ajmal Kasab is from Pakistan,'' he said. "Those who migrated to India after the partition, are now Indian citizens and should cut off all links with Pakistan,'' he added.

However, a Congress corporator said, "The names of the shops or establishments which are being targeted have become brands over the past few decades. It makes no sense forcing the owners to drop words like Karachi or Lahore. The MNS should catch those who are involved in anti-national activities and spare the innocents.''