The Hitler apparel store, whose signboard uses the swastika upright like the Hindu symbol but without the four dots, in Ahmedabad on Saturday
Ahmedabad, Sept. 3: The owners of the Ahmedabad menswear shop “Hitler” agreed to change the name today after Israeli consul-general Orna Sagiv’s meeting with senior Gujarat bureaucrats set off instant official pressure.
Store co-owner Rajesh Shah called The Telegraph around 8.30pm to communicate his change of heart after eight days of resisting requests from the local Jewish community and international organisations.
He said a team of civic officials visited his store around noon and said he would have to change the outlet’s name.
“I had to agree; we can’t take on the civic authorities. There are consequences relating to licence and bank accounts,” Rajesh, a 32-year-old engineering graduate and former stockbroker, said.
The Mumbai-based Sagiv had arrived in Gandhinagar this morning to attend a conference on agriculture that began at 11am. Her meeting with bureaucrats there apparently prompted the civic officials’ visit to the shop within an hour or so.
Sagiv learnt the “excellent news” from this correspondent. “I had spoken to senior government officials and they had promised to look into the matter. But things have worked out so fast.... I’m really happy,” she said.
Till yesterday, Rajesh had been adamant about retaining the name of the shop, opened 11 days ago, and said he was consulting his lawyer to be able to meet “any eventuality”.
This evening, he sounded very subdued. He said the decision was taken after the store’s other co-owner, Manish Chandani, returned from an overseas trip and reached the shop around 8pm.
“As soon as he stepped inside, I briefed him about the developments and we both decided to change the name,” Rajesh said. He said he would remove the signboard bearing the old name after “we have finalised a new name”.
Esther David, an author from Ahmedabad’s small Jewish community of about 40 families, said: “This proves that India is a secular, democratic country where contentious issues are resolved peacefully.”
Sagiv had said she would meet chief minister Narendra Modi over the matter, which she eventually didn’t need to.
“His (Rajesh’s) decision to name his shop ‘Hitler’ was a combination of ignorance and insensitivity towards the Jewish community,” she said. “Now that he has taken the right decision, I feel he is a sensitive person.”
A pleasantly surprised Manasseh Solomon, the local synagogue secretary who had met Rajesh last week to request a name change, said: “We are thankful to the shop owners.”
The New York-based Anti-Defamation League, which campaigns against anti-Semitism, too had appealed for a name change. Rajesh had claimed he knew nothing about Hitler and had named the store after his partner’s late grandfather, who was known as “Hitler” because of his “strictness”.