A roadside vendor was taken into police custody in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr district on Tuesday over a complaint that he was selling shoes which had a caste-identifying word inscribed on its sole, officials said.
The vendor, Nasir, was booked following a complaint by a local resident, Vishal Chauhan, that the shoes being sold by him had the word "Thakur" written on it, a senior official said.
"Based on the complaint, an FIR has been lodged against the shoe vendor at the Gulawathi police station and the matter is being investigated. Further action would be taken on the basis of the probe," Additional Superintendent of Police (City) Atul Kumar Srivastava said.
The FIR has been lodged under Indian Penal Code sections 153A (promoting enmity between groups and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of peace), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), according to officials.
The incident and the police action drew sharp criticism from some social media users.
Responding to the reactions, the district police said on Twitter: "Had the police not taken the action as per the legal system, many people would have reacted differently or in the wrong way (ulti ya bhinn pratikriya dete). Hence, the police have followed the rules and please look at it in the same way."