BJP leaders in Aligarh gave the police an ultimatum on Saturday to take action within 24 hours against what they claimed was “beef biryani” being allegedly served in the canteen of Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College on campus at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
Local BJP leaders led by the mayor of Aligarh, met the SP (City) on Saturday to file a complaint and seek a probe into the allegations. The university has said that the biryani contained only buffalo meat, and rejected the allegations as “vicious” and “an attempt to whip up communal passion”.
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A controversy erupted after a picture was circulated on WhatsApp on Friday, allegedly showing a board displaying the menu at the medical college canteen, which included the item “beaf biryani”. The canteen is situated inside the medical college, and caters only to students.
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Following the circulation of the picture in the city, AMU officials rushed to the canteen and had the board pulled down. They denied allegations that cow meat was being served in the canteen, and said that only buffalo meat was used in the biryani.
“There is not an iota of truth in the allegation. We never used prohibited meat,” Rahat Abrar, AMU PRO said.
Mayor Shakuntala Bharti, who belongs to the BJP, however, alleged the biryani contained cow meat, and that the menu board had separate entries mentioning biryani and beef biryani. “We have submitted a complaint to SP City, Aligarh, seeking probe and subsequent action into the matter. When cow meat and cow slaughter is banned, how can it be served in AMU? The board was removed within 15 minutes,” Bharti said.
She also said, “We have served an ultimatum of 24 hours to either take action or we will take the matter ahead.”
In a statement issued on Saturday evening, AMU Vice-Chancellor Lt Gen (retd) Zameeruddin Shah said, “The allegations by BJP Mayor Shakuntala Bharti are vicious and an attempt to whip up communal passion. Only buffalo meat is served in AMU and we will never violate national sentiments in this regard.”
The V-C also called up the BJP MP from Aligarh, Satish Gautam, over the issue.
University proctor Prof M M Khan told The Sunday Express, “It is a non-issue, but an issue was created by some people. From the outset, it is very clear that only buffalo meat is used in the university. Even then, we have framed certain guidelines now on displaying the menu card.”
As per the new guidelines, only generic words like ‘biryani’ or ‘korma’ will be used, without mentioning the type of meat, on the menu board. “Why create a controversy over a non-existent issue?” Prof Khan said. AMU officials stressed that the reference to ‘beef’ in the menu was to buffalo meat. “No one can even think of any other meat in India, but it has been made into an issue,” the proctor said.
AMU officials also said cow meat has been banned in AMU since 1884. “In fact, (AMU founder) Sir Syed Ahmed Khan had even appealed to Muslims to shun cow slaughter during Bakrid, and when the Muslims of Bareilly followed his advice, he thanked them,” Rahat Abrar said.
He also said that the contract of the canteen’s contractor is running out on February 23.