Muslim leaders have said they have been outraged by the attempt of a Shiv Sena MP to put food inside the mouth of a Muslim employee on Ramzan fast, calling it an attack of “secularism”.
The incident puts religious freedom on the line, prominent Muslims said. A group of Muslims, which met informally in the Capital, said they would seek time to meet President Pranab Mukherjee.
“The Shiv Sena has always spread communal hatred. The MP should be arrested. But what is more shocking is Parliament did not censure the MP. Has Parliament’s ethics committee taken this up?” asked Zafarul Islam Khan, the editor of Milli Gazette, a community magazine.
Read: Shiv Sena force-feeding row: Opposition MPs write to speaker Mahajan, seek probe
Some expressed skepticism and wondered if the Modi government meant a tougher cultural climate in the country. “My worry is that we will face more incidents like this under the Modi government,” said professor Arshad Gauhar, the president of the Mumbai-based National Muslims Alliance, a think-tank.
The issue blew up in the Lok Sabha, where Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi raised the matter and was charged at by BJP member Ramesh Bidhuri. "Forcefully breaking the fast of a Muslim is hurting his religious sentiments. The question is that even if the employee was not a Muslim, he should not have been treated this way.”
Read: I didn't know he is a Muslim, says Shiv Sena MP accused of 'forcing' man to eat
Lawyer-activist Shehzaad Poonawala said he had formally lodged a complain with the National Minorities Commission, which said it would probe the matter. “I can only condemn this and we will take a collective view when we meet,” said NCM member Praveen Dawar.