An eatery named Namo Restaurant and Mess on the outskirts of Nagpur, which served alcohol, has been closed down by authorities after protests by BJP workers.
Nagpur’s district collector suspended the licence of Namo Restaurant for 180 days on Tuesday. But the protestors, including Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Samir Meghe and corporator Pragati Patil, were firm and said they would protest again if the outlet is allowed to open after six months.
The BJP leaders were angered by the outlet’s name because Prime Minister Narendra Modi is referred to as NaMo, especially on social media.
“The name of the bar was kept as Namo deliberately to embarrass the chief executive of the country,” said Meghe, who insisted that the restaurant should not be allowed to reopen.
Even after the notification for closure of the restaurant was issued on Tuesday women in Godhni area too warned they would protest harder if it was reopened.
Political activists said the Namo Restaurant was started a year ago in an “unauthorised manner” and the local gram panchayat had refused to give it a “no-objection certificate” (NOC). At the time, there were protests against the outlet by women of the area, they said.
The restaurant’s owner, Anand Singh, said he had kept the outlet open on the basis of directions issued by a court.
Recently, groups of women came together and formed a “Women Group Action Committee” and launched a movement against the restaurant on October 2. BJP legislator Samir Meghe, corporator Pragati Patil and Youth Congress leader Kunda Raut joined the protesters, who resolved to continue their campaign till the outlet was closed.
The protest turned violent on Monday, when demonstrators allegedly pelted stones at the restaurant. Youngsters burnt tyres on roads in the area and some persons broke the restaurant’s CCTV cameras and signboards. The violence created tension in the area.
Police booked Meghe and others on various sections, including rioting.
District collector Sachin Kurve said he initiated action after taking into consideration the worsening law and order situation because of the protests.
“We now expect the bar owner to surrender the licence before the district administration as per directions issued by the high court in the issue,” Kurve said.
Aam Aadmi Party activist Mohan Kothekar questioned the decision to cancel the bar licence “just on the basis that it carries a certain name”.
He said, “Does nomenclature have something to do with legality? Even the collector has taken unconstitutional and invalid course in the entire episode. He should work free from politics.”
It was said that the bar owner was once a BJP activist and he might have coined the name for his bar to attract customers.