Dubai - Indian residents alerted officials at the Consulate General of India about the mural.
A 'new-age' mural that resembles Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi on a Dubai pub's wall has deeply upset the sentiments of some Indian expatriates in the city. Amid the outcry, the pub management maintains that the mural was not drawn with the intention to represent Gandhi, but is merely a form of graffiti art.
The Bar Baar resto-lounges' 'modern Bapu' is an image of what looks like Gandhi in bright pink and electric blue glasses and a rainbow-coloured shawl painted over a red brick wall. The resto-pub, located in the Al Mankhool area in Bur Dubai, opened in February this year in place of the iconic live music venue The Music Room.
After a picture of the mural was discovered on a social media re-post on the pub's Instagram page on Friday (September 28), a few Indian residents alerted officials at the Consulate General of India, which is planning to take up the matter with the higher authorities.
Consul General of India to Dubai Vipul told Khaleej Times: "Senior members of the Indian community are offended with the mural. We have got in touch with the pub management after weighing in the sentiments of the community members. We have requested them to take it off. We will be discussing this matter with the local authorities on Sunday."
In response to the outburst from the community members, Sadananda Poojari, general manager at Bar Baar resto-lounge, said, "Bar Baar is a gastronomical Indian cuisine restaurant which showcases many forms of graffiti art and creativity. We see nothing wrong in the mural as it is not a representation of Gandhi and see no reason to take it down as our customers appreciate it." Poojari added, "We do not in any way mean to hurt the sentiments associated with Indian culture, and will continue our efforts to embrace the best of Indian cuisine."
However, senior Indian community leaders contend that the mural is "a slap in the face any self-respecting Indian who loves his nation". "Given the excellent relations India and UAE share, the fact that UAE is celebrating Bapu's 150th birth anniversary, and also since UAE is opening a Gandhi-Zayed museum, why would anyone use his picture on a pub wall!" wondered Girish Pant, a volunteer member of the Indian Consulate's community welfare committee.
"Furthermore, Gandhi is from Gujarat - a state that to this date prohibits the exhibition and sale of alcohol," Pant added.
Anjana Bhatia, an advocate in Dubai, said, "I first saw the image on Instagram.
There were hashtags used on the post that said #modernbapu. Moreover, there were some pics uploaded by a blogger- where a woman was dancing in front of it.
It is very derogatory. We have an emotional attachment to Mahatma Gandhi. It is a clear insult. In India, it can be punishable by law."