A group of around 11 Shiv Sena MPs, apparently angry over not being served Maharashtrian food, allegedly forced a Muslim catering superviser who was fasting for Ramzan to eat a chapati at the new Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi last week.
Within hours, IRCTC, the Indian Railways subsidiary that was catering for the Sadan, stopped all operations in protest, and complained in writing to the Maharashtra Resident Commissioner, saying the employee, Arshad Zubair S, had been “deeply pained and hurt… as religious sentiments are attached”.
The Resident Commissioner subsequently apologised to IRCTC and Arshad, and asked to “meet him personally (to) convey the sentiments of our government”.
The Maharashtra government has said it is examining the matter, and has promised “appropriate action”. The MPs have said that they were “insulted” at the Sadan, but claimed that the allegations against them were “wrong”.
In an email sent to Resident Commissioner Bipin Mallick on July 17, IRCTC Deputy GM Shankar Malhotra wrote: “Today there was a meeting of 12-15 MPs at New Maharashtra Sadan in the Press Conference Hall in which they were complaining about the services of Electrical, civil, housekeeping, catering, etc. which they are facing from the last several months in the premises of Maharashtra Sadan.
“The entire delegation along with the electronic media and Manager, Maharashtra Sadan, walked inside the public dining hall and started throwing chafing dish covers in the buffet area. They also issued physical threats to the kitchen and service staff while using highly objectionable language. The specific incident happened with the Resident Manager/IRCTC, Sh. Arshad who was forced to consume full chapati whilst he was having fast on the eve of Ramzan. The concerned has been deeply pained and hurt on this account as religious sentiments are attached.”
Malhotra said that the MPs “demanded [a] Maharashtrian caterer in the NMS [New Maharashtra Sadan]. It may be noted that this is not the first time that such an incident has happened. We have received no support from the NMS management in this regard.”
In his complaint, which was forwarded to Mallick, Arshad said, “All the guests along with media reporters and staffs of Maharashtra Sadan got into kitchen where I was getting the orders prepared. They caught me and put the chapati into my mouth. I was wearing a formal uniform set as prescribed by IRCTC and everybody in the panel also knew my name as ‘Arshad’ as I was wearing the name tag. Even then they inserted chapati in my mouth which caused my fast to break on the eve of Ramzan. I was hurt with the thing they have done as religious sentiments are concerned.”
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