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Chapatti MPs spring caterer

The closed canteen of Maharashtra Sadan

New Delhi, July 24: When it comes to “force-feeding”, trust the chapatti brigade to go the whole hog.

The Shiv Sena MPs accused of stuffing a chapatti into the mouth of a fasting Muslim employee at Maharashtra Sadan last week turned up the next day with a caterer to run the canteen at the government guesthouse, an internal probe has revealed.

But Maharashtra resident commissioner Bipin Mallik refused permission, saying a new caterer could be hired only through a fresh tender. “It is violation of rules,” Mallik’s office had told the group of 11 MPs, thwarting their canteen coup.

The July 18 spring-a-caterer bid came a day after one of the 11 MPs thrust a chapatti into the mouth of the catering supervisor from the IRCTC, which has since pulled out alleging “manhandling” of its staff. The supervisor had been fasting because of Ramazan.

The MP, Rajan Vichare, who is seen on footage stuffing the chapatti, had passed off his July 17 action as a “spur-of-the-moment” response to the quality of food served at the Sadan, the Maharashtra government’s guesthouse near Connaught Place.

A Sadan employee alleged the group had also railed at people from other states working at the guesthouse. The allegation appeared to have been confirmed when the MPs, as an official put it, “stormed” into Mallik’s office on July 18.

“The 11 MPs stormed into the office of the resident commissioner the next day and instructed him to allow the new caterer who was from Maharashtra to run the canteen. They used abusive language, saying the caterer was from Maharashtra and only he had the right to run the (now shut) canteen,” the Sadan official said.

According to the rules, the resident commissioner’s office has to advertise in newspapers asking prospective caterers to take part in the fresh tender. A guesthouse selection committee then chooses the caterer after considering all the terms and conditions. “What the MPs were demanding was illegal,” the official added.

The National Commission for Minorities today asked the resident commissioner to send a report on the food-rage incident. “We have taken up the matter and asked the commissioner to file a detailed report within 15 days. Necessary action will be taken after going through the report,” NCM chairperson Naseem Ahmad said.