Distinguished writer Girish Karnad triggered a major row in Karnataka after he joined a group of Left activists who protested the beef ban in Maharashtra by eating beef biriyani in public on Thursday.
Although he did not eat the biriyani himself, Karnad's show of solidarity prompted a man claiming to be his relative to file a case of religious incitement against him at a local court here.
"I have great respect for Karnad, the artiste. But by doing this he has brought great shame to our family as well as all Brahmins like us and the Hindu community at large. This is direct provocation," said the complainant, M. Vasudevarao Kasyapa, national spokesperson, Akhila Bharath Hindu Mahasabha.
Karnad's action also led local news channels to conduct day-long studio discussions on the issue of beef eating.
"The act of banning beef eating is the provocation. I may or may not eat beef but I will stand by the right of others for whom the meat is a crucial source of affordable nutrition. It's about people's right to food and their right to life," Karnad told reporters.
Activists of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), who organized the protest, came under considerable pressure from the Hindu Right as well as the police who seized the first batch of biriyani they had cooked. They remained defiant and brought packets of beef biriyani from a nearby hotel and shared it among themselves.
Some pro-Hindu outfits even managed to secure a stay on the protest from the high court. But by the time the order was passed, the beef had already been eaten.
Police Commissioner M N Reddi said that the biriyani cooked on the spot was seized by the police to prevent an outbreak of violence.
While Sri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik who threatened to attack the protestors was nowhere in sight, activists of the BJP tried to stall the demonstration only to be arrested.