The Union home ministry briefed the prime minister’s office on Tuesday about an alleged raid on Kerala House in the Capital over allegations of beef being served at the state guesthouse’s canteen, an incident that triggered a political slugfest.
The PMO sought details from the home ministry, to which Delhi Police report, as the political storm sucked both the NDA government and the Capital’s police into it.
The first salvo came from Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy, who wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought “stringent action” against Delhi Police. He said Monday’s raid on Kerala House, acting on complaints from the little-known Hindu Sena, was “highly objectionable” and police “overstepped their brief”.
The Congress-led state government asked the canteen to resume serving its popular buffalo meat dish from Wednesday . The canteen, open to the public, had temporarily taken its buffalo meat preparation off the menu after the police action.
“Kerala House is not a private hotel or an institution run for making profit. It is an official guesthouse of the state government,” Chandy said.
The VHP questioned why the Kerala House canteen has “beef fry” scribbled in Malayalam on the menu when the rest of the items are written in English and cow meat is not served there.
Delhi has long banned cow slaughter and consumption of beef.
“Strong action should be taken against people serving beef in Kerala House,” VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain demanded.
The BJP defended police, with party spokesperson Siddharnath Nath Singh terming the action “right and taken as a preventive measure”. Delhi Police chief BS Bassi maintained a similar line. His response came after the Kerala government lodged an official complaint.
A senior Delhi Police officer clarified they were within their rights to enter a property owned by a state where an offence has been reported and there is no legal requirement to seek permission from that government. But the state authorities may be kept in the loop as a matter of professional courtesy.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal sprang to Chandy’s support at a time of heightened religious intolerance in the country, especially after a mob lynched a Muslim man in Dadri on the suspicion of slaughtering a cow and eating its meat.
Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal, Tarun Gogoi of Assam and Left leaders echoed similar views too, taking the Modi government to task.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said Modi must speak up against elements like the Hindu Sena. “Modi’s patronage makes it clear that these elements are key to the RSS constellation.”
Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh wondered if Delhi Police have no other work but to raid state government premises when rape cases are increasing in the national capital.
(With inputs from HT Correspondent, Thiruvananthapuram)