Dindoshi police register FIR against ‘Goregaon Social’ for hurting Catholic community’s sentiments

Complaint against 'Goregaon Social' for hurting Catholic sentiments, call for closure & owner's arrest
Interior of Goregaon Social. Picture Courtesy: Guardians United

Watchdog Foundation NGO has filed a police complaint against the owner of a suburban pub, Goregaon Social, for hurting the sentiments of all Catholics by using images of saints, mother Mary and Jesus in an ‘objectionable’ manner. The pub is located inside Oberoi Mall, Goregaon.

The foundation, which aims to promote human rights and bring social advancement through the use of media, filed a complaint against the pub and its management at Dindoshi police station on Wednesday afternoon.

The Archdiocese of Bombay too issued an official press statement earlier today condemning the restaurant for hurting religious sentiments.

According to a statement by the Watchdog Foundation, Goregaon Social’s interiors are plastered with outrageous depiction of various Saints and religious items from the Holy Bible, which is nothing short of blasphemy to Christianity.

“There are stain pictures of Saints with funny names written there under. The Bar area has a backdrop of a Tabernacle set up. Even the seating arrangement in the bar is that of church Pews. Even the messages inscribed on the benches are from Holy Bible. This Blasphemy is nothing but an act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence to a religious or holy persons or sacred things, which is sacred or inviolable,” it reads.

“The Pub Management has done this deliberate and malicious act with an intent to outrage the religious feelings of the Christian community by insulting its religion and our religious beliefs.

“For instance Jesus is holding a leather bag, Mother Mary having a Chain in her hand (instead of Rosary), Moses holding a Computer Tablet, St. Anthony is shown wearing Glasses, etc. Similarly Tabernacle where Eucharist is stored or reserved is instead shown in the said pub having some liquor bottles with inscription of Holy Cross on the container resembling the Tabernacle, which is considered most Holy by Christians,” it adds.

The NGO, along with Guardians United, has demanded the removal of ‘all such religious articles hurting religious sentiments’ and arrest of the pub’s owner under Section 295A of Indian Penal Code.

Meanwhile, in their official press release, the Church has demanded that the pub be closed down and a its operational licences be cancelled till the interior decoration is changed.

“How did the BMC give permission for these interiors? It is a clear violation of our laws and it is upsetting that our community is taken for granted like this,” Father Warner D’Souza, a spokesperson for the Catholic Church told Scroll.

The pub is owned by Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality Pvt Ltd. It’s chief executive officer and managing director, Riyaaz Amlani, remained unavailable for comment.

“Two priests went there today, and the management says they are closed for maintenance,” D’Souza added.

The management has issued a release stating, “In no way is there an intent on the part of Social to hurt any religious sentiments. We are more than happy to engage with anyone who feels offended by the design and make rectifications.”

Goregaon Social’s interiors have reportedly been designed by Ayaz and Zameer Basrai of ‘The Busride Design Studio’.

The matter has also angered the Catholic community, many of whom have taken to social media to voice their anger and signed the Change.org petition demanding action against the pub’s owner. As of writing this post, the petition had garnered over 3,000 supporters and growing.

Update: Godfrey Pimenta, a trustee of the NGO, said that Dindoshi police carried out the panchnama earlier today and recorded the statement of Nicholas Almeida, following which it registered an FIR against the pub’s owners.

The offensive pieces have been removed from the pub as of 8 pm today.

Update (Nov 3): The group’s CEO, Riyaaz Amlani, issued an unconditional apology to the community. His apology reads,

“I have just learnt that the decor of Goregaon Social has offended the religious sentiments of Catholics. For this error, I offer a complete and unconditional apology on behalf of our group. Goregaon Social’s design was meant as a satirical statement against the ever growing trend of overt consumerism and the culture of advertising where people are made to feel inadequate and unhappy unless they buy more and more things. In no way was there any intent on part of Social to disrespect or hurt sentiments that are sacred to any community . On the contrary , it is a call to move away from the pursuit of material things and instead focus on the spiritual pursuits. The intended message is that money and things cannot buy you happiness,” he said.

“We have already removed all the imagery that the Watchdog Foundation considered offensive and further commit to ensure that we do all we can to ensure that no one’s sentiments are offended. I once again apologize for any hurt we have caused and accept full responsibility for the same. If there is anything at all we can do to show our commitment towards making amends please do let me know.”

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