After a Delhi University student announced a “Beefy Picnic” protest outside the BJP office, commuters exiting Patel Chowk Metro station Sunday were stumped when police went through their bags at the station gates citing “security reasons”.
Police detained three persons, including the DU student, who were going to protest by consuming beef outside the BJP office at Ashoka Road.
Police were on the lookout for Gaurav Jain, a DU law student and freelance journalist, after he announced the protest against the Dadri lynching on Facebook. “Of late, beef has ceased to exist as ‘just food’. It has now become an excuse to alienate and kill people; the latest being the lynching of Md Akhlaq by his own villagers… this whole episode baffles the inherent sense of justice and humanity… let’s show ‘them’ that eating beef shouldn’t spread hatred…,” he wrote.
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Menka, a student, whose bag was searched said, “The checking was intrusive and uncalled for. There is no rule that prohibits the carrying of food items in the metro, and definitely none that allows you to be detained based on what you are planning to eat. Also, we were not told why our bags were being searched.”
Although police personnel at the station claimed the checking was “routine procedure”, one of them later accepted that the bags were frisked for beef. “This boy, Gaurav Jain, is planning to carry and eat beef. So we’re here to catch him and anyone else who is carrying the meat,” said the officer.
At about 2 pm, police detected Jain and two of his friends exiting the Metro station. They were taken to Parliament Street police station. Around 15 Hindu Sena activists who were present to retaliate against the protest, were also detained.
“We had a tip-off there was going to be a protest with beef outside the BJP office and a group was going to try and stop the protesters. We decided to stop and detain both to prevent them from vitiating the atmosphere. All the persons detained were let off later in the day,” said DCP (New Delhi) Jatin Narwal.
Police declined to say whether they found beef on any protester. Sources said Jain was carrying cooked meat with him, though it did not appear to be beef.
“Police berated me for trying to trigger riots. They rang up restaurants to come and verify if the meat was beef. When no one turned up, they called the shop I bought the meat from. The shopkeeper said it was buffalo meat,” Jain said, after he was let off.