Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Congress on Tuesday criticised the Delhi Police for acting on a complaint that beef was allegedly being served in the canteen of Kerala House, saying the force had exceeded its jurisdiction.
The Kerala government too criticised the Delhi Police, which is controlled by the Union home ministry, and said it would make a formal complaint about the action taken by the police force on Monday.
Kerala House removed dishes made with buffalo meat from the menu of its canteen after Delhi Police sent a team to the state guest house to look into a complaint by the right-wing Hindu Sena that beef was allegedly being served in the eatery.
The canteen is popular with people staying in the Kerala House and outsiders.
Kejriwal said on Twitter that Delhi Police “had no business to enter Kerala House”. He used the incident to criticise the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre.
“It is an attack on (federal) structure. (Delhi) Police is acting like BJP Sena,” he tweeted. “I strongly condemn (Delhi) Police raid on Kerala house. I agree with Kerala CM that Kerala House is a govt (establishment) & not a (private) hotel.”
Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy, a senior leader of the Congress, said: “I am of the opinion that Delhi Police should have (refrained from) doing what they did. It’s wrong, if they entered inside like that. Even if there was a complaint, there are procedures to be followed.”
The resident commissioner of Kerala House will make a formal complaint to Delhi Police, said Kerala chief secretary J Thomson. “Activists have rights, so do we. We are saying we are serving only buffalo meat,” he said.
Congress leader Tom Vadakkan too criticised the Delhi Police for “barging into” Kerala House and accused the force of indulging in “moral policing”.
“I have eaten at Kerala Bhawan, beef was never served there. Delhi Police is indulging in moral policing on Hindu Sena’s orders?” he told ANI.
CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury said such “moral policing” was unacceptable. “If anyone is violating the law, he should be punished. But under this government, we see imposition of so-called morality standards. Also, violating the right of a state is a serious matter,” he said. When the Delhi Police team arrived at Kerala House at 4pm on Monday and stationed policemen at all entry points, officials of the state government told the policemen they did not have the authority to search the building as it is a property of the Kerala government.
Kerala House official Gopan Kumar told Hindustan Times: “They (Delhi Police) were stopped at the building gate and told that they do not have the requisite permission to raid a state government property.”
The police team, which questioned staff of the guest house and the canteen at the gate, was told that all meat served in the eatery was sourced from slaughter houses authorised by the Delhi government.
However, Kerala House decided to discontinue serving buffalo meat after the visit by the Delhi Police, which came against the backdrop of a raging debate on the beef ban and the lynching of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh over rumours that he had slaughtered a calf.
Cow meat is banned in the whole of the Delhi-National Capital Region. Kerala is one of the few states in the country where cow slaughter is not banned.