Mumbai: Enraged over a trenchant message printed on a restaurant's bill slamming UPA government for imposing service tax on AC restaurants, Congress workers forced closure of the eatery here.
The Congress workers' action prompted Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to dub it as "height of intolerance".
A group of Congress workers staged a protest outside 'Aditi' restaurant near KEM Hospital in central Mumbai yesterday and forced it to shut down, police said today.
The Congress workers alleged that the restaurant was issuing bills to customers with a printed message that read: "As per UPA govt eating money (2G, coal, CWG scam) is a necessity and eating food in AC restaurants is a luxury."
As the protest continued, police reached the spot and subsequently a non-cognizable offence was registered at Bhoiwada Police Station under section 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory) of the IPC against S Shetty, the owner of the restaurant.
"Shetty apologized to Congress workers saying that he was sorry if he had hurt the sentiments of anybody," a police officer said.
The restaurant was shut down for some time but reopened later, he said, adding that a police contingent has been deployed at the eatery to maintain peace.
Modi terms Congress workers intolerant
The action by Congress workers drew criticism from Modi, who took to microblogging site Twitter to slam their high-handedness.
"Height of intolerance!", the BJP's election campaign committee chief said on his Twitter handle @narendramodi where he also posted a photo of the bill issued by the restaurant.
The Centre has imposed service tax on taxable service provided in restaurants with air-conditioning or central air heating with effect from April 1, 2013.
Earlier, service tax was not levied on airconditioned restaurants that did not serve liquor.
Allegations 'baseless': Mumbai Youth Congress
Ganesh Kumar Yadav, the president of the Mumbai Youth Congress, has denied all allegations against the youth wing of the party after a Mumbai eatery became the latest focus of political controversy in the country.
It has been alleged that party workers, led by Yadav, forced the Aditi Pure Veg restaurant to shut down after the eatery showed the UPA Government in poor light through quirky food bills.
"I deny this allegation. We have not forcefully closed any restaurant" Yadav said.
The cash memos that allegedly triggered the furious step taken by the Mumbai Youth Congress had a footer at the bottom which read: 'As per UPA Government, eating money (2G, Coal, CWG scam) is a necessity and eating food in an AC restaurant is a luxury.'
Yadav has rejected any allegations of any perpetrated violence towards the restaurant property or the owner saying, "We went to the police station, filed our complaint, police team was sent to the hotel, we went there and did a peaceful protest over there. If we did a violent protest and closed it (the hotel) the police would have registered a complaint against us. The case was registered against the hotel owner (under) Section 501. It has been registered in his name, not under our name. These allegations are totally baseless. There is no substance to it."
He also alleged that there were hotels "such as these" which were running as 'fronts' of other political parties to campaign for them against the Congress.
Yadav's allegation comes as a reaction to Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) leader Narendra Modi's tweet which commented on the 'forceful' closure of Aditi Pure Veg terming it as the "height of intolerance" on the social network.
"The Congress workers also filed a defamation case against the owner of the restaurant. The owner has been booked for printing defamatory matter under Section 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory)of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)," CNN-IBN reported.
The restaurant opened on Tuesday but the bill, which slammed the government, has been discontinued.