The Entry of Delhi Police into the Kerala government’s guest house in the capital to probe a complaint of beef being served there has ignited a political firestorm with leaders cutting across party lines and states slamming the action and threatening to take up the issue in Parliament.
Watch: The Big Beef Debate — Kerala And Its Meat (click here)
While the state’s chief secretary said that what was served in the Kerala House canteen was buffalo meat, and not beef as alleged by the Hindu Sena in a complaint, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy described the police action as “unfortunate”.
“Kerala House is not a private hotel or an institution run for making profit. It is an official guest house of the state government. The police action was really unfortunate. They should have shown some restraint before carrying out searches,” Chandy told reporters in Kozhikode.
Chandy said he had also written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to direct the Union Home Minister to act against those responsible for trespassing into the property of the Kerala government.
Chandy, who heads a Congress-led coalition, stated in the letter that police raided the canteen without permission from the resident commissioner of Kerala House. “The police and those who accompanied the force disrupted the functioning of the canteen alleging cow meat was served. It was wrong information…,” Chandy wrote.
Chandy received support from his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee who “strongly” condemned “the unwise and unhealthy attempt to curb fundamental rights” and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who stated that Delhi Police “had no business to enter the Kerala House”.
“It is an attack on the federal structure. Delhi Police is acting like BJP sena… Will Delhi Police go and arrest a CM from a state bhavan in Delhi if they suspect the CM to be eating something that BJP or Modiji don’t like,” Kejriwal tweeted.
Delhi Police chief B S Bassi was quick to respond, saying that the police visit “was not a raid” but “a preventive measure”. “We received a call from a person who had come to our notice earlier for taking the law in his hands. So we alerted the staff working in Kerala House beforehand,” Bassi said.
Kerala chief secretary Jiji Thomson said a complaint has now been lodged with Delhi Police over the “unauthorised entry” of people into Kerala House. On Tuesday, the guest house did not serve the dish, labelled as “beef fry”, during lunch but sources said the state governement has ordered it to be served again from Wednesday.
The Indian Express had reported on Tuesday that nearly 20 police officials went to Kerala House on Monday evening to conduct inquiries after Vishnu Gupta, a Hindu Sena leader, complained that the canteen at the guest house was serving beef.
The incident also triggered furious reactions across the political spectrum in Kerala with Congress leaders criticising Delhi Police and the Left referring to the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri.
The state’s BJP chief claimed that the controversy was “manufactured” to tarnish the image of the Centre. Pointing out that only the words “beef fry” on the canteen menu was written in Malayalam, while the rest of the items were listed in English, BJP state chief V Muraleedharan alleged: “That shows something illegal was going on and the authorities wanted to cover it up. Police went there following a complaint from two persons who had gone to the canteen. It is the duty of police to address a complaint.”
However, Kerala CPI(M) politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan claimed that the police action was part of a Sangh “agenda”. “The same forces who killed Mohammed Ikhlaq in Dadri are behind the raid at Kerala House too. The raid at the state-run
guest house is a warning that they will barge into any kitchen in the country…,” Vijayan stated in a Facebook post.
“It shows that the Delhi police, under the Union Home Ministry, will decide the menu for the people of Kerala,” said Vijayan.
Veteran CPI(M) leader V S Achuthanandan said the incident showed that the BJP-led NDA government would “encroach upon the powers of a state to implement the Hindutva agenda.”
Former defence minister and senior Congress leader A K Antony said that it was an “individual’s freedom to decide what to eat and wear, and that should not be violated”.
Congress deputy chief whip in Lok Sabha K C Venugopal and CPI(M) deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha K N Balagopal said they would raise the incident and alleged killings over consumption of beef in during the winter session of parliament next month.
“Who gave authority to Delhi Police to conduct searches in Kerala House?” asked Venugopal.
“The Prime Minister will have to speak in parliament about the violent incidents occurring under his rule in the country over consumption of food,” said Balagopal, adding that the police action had “hurt the fundamental rights of crores of Keralites”.