| The beef festival organised on the Osmania University campus in April as a protest against the campaign to ban cow slaughterCaption
Hyderabad, Oct. 3: They disagree with Gandhi and make no bones about it. So they go ahead and have a chicken festival on his birth anniversary.
Scenes of the unorthodox protest unfolded at Osmania University where some Scheduled Caste and OBC students organised a “chicken festival” yesterday, taking a break from several days of the Telangana agitation.
The aim of the 200-strong group was to reaffirm their dissent with Gandhi and his idea that non-violence is a cure for all problems in society.
The eat-your-heart-out protest was also meant to swear by the ideals of Babasaheb Ambedkar, the architect of the Constitution and a Dalit icon.
“We wanted to register our protest against the government for banning meat sale and consumption on this day (Gandhi’s birth anniversary). The restriction hurts the sentiments of a large section of people,” J.B. Raju, a student leader, said between mouthfuls of the delicacies during the luncheon protest at the Triveni post-graduate hostel.
Others claimed that the Father of the Nation had endorsed Manusmriti, the ancient treatise seen by some sections as sanctioning a caste system, and in doing so had inflicted a form of violence on the disadvantaged classes.
“Gandhi had hurt Dalits, whose staple is meat,” said G. Vijaya Kumar, a political science research scholar and Telangana activist.
The festival was organised by the Madiga Students’ Federation, Bahujan Students’ Front, SC/ST Vidyarthi Sangham and the Telangana Students’ Association.
But some among the 200 protesters who polished off the platefuls were from the English and Foreign Languages University, located just across the Osmania campus.
“We culled around 50 birds to prepare chicken biryani, chicken roast and chilli-chicken,” said Praveen Reddy, a post-graduate student and a member of the students’ joint action committee campaigning for Telangana.
Osmania, though, is no stranger to unconventional protests. In April, a “beef festival” was held to protest the campaign by some Hindutva groups against cow slaughter, with the participants describing the idea as “food fascism”.
But the event got the goat of the ABVP, the BJP’s student wing, whose activists stormed the venue and clashed with the organisers. Five students were injured and two vehicles set on fire.