Sizzling hot, and just off the grill or tandoor oven! This Tuesday, make sure you starve yourself of breakfast to be able to gorge on the whole array of mouth-watering hariyali, shahi, sheek, kasturi and malai kebabs and tandoori rotis for lunch, with chicken, mutton and beef rolls as starters, at the meat festival at Muslim Institute, near Subodh Mullick Square, in Kolkata.
The occasion is meant to mark a unique protest against the ban on consumption of beef by several state governments in the country and a campaign by the saffron brigade to enforce it nationwide.
Two Kolkata-based, Left-influenced NGOs have decided to organize a ‘yummy protest’ with nawabi spreads of chicken, mutton and beef at the institute on March 31.
Prominent faces are behind the initiative — former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, former Kolkata mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya and Congress leader Abdul Mannan. The organizers want to highlight the “right to freedom of food” of different communities.
“The BJP government is banning cow slaughter in several states. We believe that eating whatever one wants to is a personal choice. The central government’s intolerance towards an individual’s food habits is against the spirit of national unity and secularism,” said Faiyaz Ahmed Khan, one of the organizers and a former CPI(M) councillor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
According to the organizers of the meat festival, people from all walks of life and all religions are expected to congregate on the protest platform. And, if his health permits, Somnath Chatterjee, too, will be present.
In early-March, Maharashtra banned the possession, sale and consumption of beef, with provision for a five-year jail term and/or Rs 10,000 fine for violators. Later, BJP-ruled Jharkhand, too, planned to amend a 2005 law to bring in stringent penalties for cow slaughter and smuggling and sale of beef in the state.
“So, we’ve organized this unique food festival where beef, chicken and mutton will be served. We’ve made plans for serving these delicacies to 1,000 people, but we expect more to come,” Khan said.
The organizers have roped in such popular restaurant brands as Rahmania and New Arafat for the preparations. While Rahmania will prepare the chicken and mutton delicacies, Arafat has been entrusted with preparing the beef dishes. “Twelve cooks and helpers have been drafted in to man our kitchen and stall. We’ll draw on all our culinary skills to produce our kebab magic,” KP Md Sharif of Rahmania said.
“Banning cow slaughter also hits the beef and leather industries hard. People will lose jobs, while the prices of chicken and mutton will go up,” Faiyaz Khan said.
The programme is organized by the Subhas Chakraborty Foundation and Paschim Banga Pratibondhi Sammelani, both pro-left NGOs.