The organisers of the beef-pork-fish-vegetarian festival have shifted the venue from College Street in North Kolkata to the pavement opposite Jadavpur University after police refused permission to hold the event at College Square.
The area in and around the Jadavpur University campus is believed to be a hotbed for Left and radical activists.
The timing of the festival, however, remains the same—1 pm on Friday. The choice of the items was designed to represent virtually the entire political spectrum in the country. The organisers are a group of students and youths who are into writing poetry, film making and other creative pursuits. They are not organising it under any banner.
“We went to Amherst Street police station but our application for the permission was not even received. The officers initially told us that serving beef and pork together could hamper communal harmony. They were particularly against serving pork. Later, they said the organisers must be from a registered organisation to apply for permission. We realised that we would not get permission and hence changed the venue,” Jul Mukherjee, one of the organisers, told HT on Thursday.
Speaking to HT, an officer of Amherst Street police station said they made no comment over inclusion of pork in the menu.
“They did not go through the proper procedure. They don’t even represent any organisation. Can any individual seek permission for a marriage party on the road?” said an officer who asked not to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media. “The organisers could have approached police headquarters against our rejection,” the officer said.
The organisers, however, said they did not want to ‘waste time’ in seeking permission. They approached several registered organisations, as well as various Leftwing political outfits, but no one agreed to lend their banner for the event. The organisers are mostly Left-leaning students and youths.
“It is unfortunate that the chief minister is speaking of tolerance on one hand and her police are showing insensitivity on the other. Anyway, who needs permission to have food? We’ll go ahead without any permission,” Mukherjee said.
Mukherjee and his friends, Raktim Ghosh and Kaushik Hafizee, are campaigning online for this event over the past few days. While the organisers will bring cooked food, they are also requesting participants to bring food along. Significantly, chief minister Mamata Banerjee has been highly critical of the spreading intolerance in the country.
“It is completely the choice of an individual to decide what he or she will eat. We are never going to interfere with people’s choice of food,” Banerjee said at a programme of Minority Development department at Netaji Indoor Stadium on September 21.
“I will not allow any divisiveness in my state, I believe in equal rights for all,” she said.