Mumbai’s iconic Karachi Bakery, which was embroiled in a controversy stoked by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) workers over its “Pakistani” name, shut down recently due to loss in business
While the MNS claimed credit for the closure of the bakery, its owners refuted and said that the move was decided “after the old lease agreement lapsed” and not due to the renaming controversy.
“We shut shop after the old lease agreement lapsed. Our landlord had been demanding a higher sum as rent which was unviable for us. The lockdown had already caused business volumes to drop,” Rameshwar Waghmare, the bakery’s manager, told The Times of India.
However, on Wednesday, MNS Vice-president Haji Saif Shaikh tweeted saying, “After massive protest for its name, Karachi Bakery finally closes its only shop in Mumbai.”
“There was no reason to capitulate by changing our name. The bakery was a legitimate business with all valid licences and approvals. Our decision is based on business factors. Let others take credit for it if they wish,” said Waghmare.
Along with Waghmare, other employees, too, have now been left jobless.
Meanwhile, Shaikh told TOI, “I did not ask Karachi Bakery to shut business. But our soldiers are being killed on the border. Every day wereceive news of skirmishes with Pakistan. So I gave a 15-day ultimatum to either change the name, or the spelling. I said spell it Karachee. They replied saying the name reflects their age-old ties to their native city. Today I am happy.”
The historic confectionery that has branches nationwide is owned by the Sindhi Hindu Ramnani family, which migrated to India after Partition. Waghmare had said it is they who will decide whether to rent a new space or allow the brand to lapse in Mumbai.
The Karachi bakery is part of the Hyderabad-based chain run by a Sindhi Hindu migrant family, the Ramnanis, from Karachi, Pakistan.
In November, last year, Shaikh had sent a legal notice to the owner, saying that the word Karachi hurts sentiments of ordinary Indians and the Indian Army because it is a Pakistani city.
The bakery should be renamed and the signboard should be in Marathi, he had demanded. In its response, the bakery owner said it was established by a Sindhi-Hindu family which migrated from Pakistan, and the brand is now recognized globally.
At the baker spot, now an ice cream parlour has opened.