The once crowded canteen inside the Kerala House at Jantar Mantar, barely hundred meters away from the Parliament, which served cuisines from Kerala, to Malayalis living in Delhi, and also Delhiites, looks deserted today. It is the same canteen that has been in the news since yesterday, for allegedly serving beef on its menu. Delhi police raided its kitchen yesterday, after complaints made by some fringe Hindutva groups.
The canteen since then, has had to stop serving beef on its menu. But the matter hasn’t settled here. In a strong show of protest today, members of parliament from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) demonstrated against the raid by the Delhi police.
Dozens of protesters, including CPI(M) Polit bureau member Pinarayi Vijayan, Member of Parliament C.P Narayanan, CPI leader Annie Raja, and parliamentarian Dr. A Sampath, along with others, like members from AAP, assembled outside Kerala Bhawan and raised slogans against the Central government, stating that they were encouraging these fringe groups that were destroying the diversity of the country. The political leaders termed it as a fascist attack on the plurality of India, and the ethos of the Indian society.
Addressing the media, CPI (M) Polit Bureau Member, Pinarai Vijayan, said, “This is an attack on the federal structure of Indian constitution. By raiding the canteen, the Delhi police in connivance with Hindutva fringe groups have hurt the sentiments of the people of Kerala.”
Making a clarification, he informed the media that the meat served inside the canteen was not cow meat, but buffalo meat, and that it is legal to procure and eat buffalo meat, in Delhi.
“We look at these incidents as an extension of what has recently happened in Dadri,” he added.
Further launching an attack on the state government of Kerala and its chief minister, Oman Chandy, Vijayan said, “Chandy should have come and joined us in the protest rather sitting back in Kerala and asking Delhi police to maintain restrain.”
Later, comrade Sampath, while talking to Tehelka, said, “What has happened yesterday in the canteen is totally unacceptable to us. There was nothing illegal going on in the kitchen of Kerala Bhavan. There was no slaughtering here. It was only buffalo meat that was being served in the canteen which is absolutely legal in Delhi. We look at this as an attack on the culture of Kerala.”
“They cannot impose their food habits on us,” he further asserted.
Similar remarks were made by others present in the protest, including Annie Raja, and C.P Narayanan. The leaders also reassured that beef will be back on the Kerala canteen’s menu, very soon.
Amidst all this, Delhi Police had barricaded the Kerala house completely and it was difficult for anyone to enter the premises except VIPs and media professionals.