Big 3 to the rescue of beef fry

Stirred by no fewer than three chief ministers separated by thousands of miles, the beef pot boiled through the day but the big question was when the dish would be served again at Kerala House.

By Pheroze L. Vincent
  • Published 28.10.15
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New Delhi, Oct. 27: Stirred by no fewer than three chief ministers separated by thousands of miles, the beef pot boiled through the day but the big question was when the dish would be served again at Kerala House.

Beef fry was not served during the day at the Kerala guesthouse canteen, sucked into the centre of a national uproar after Delhi police responded to a call from a Hindu Sena leader by sending 30 policemen to the establishment yesterday afternoon.

The caller had complained that cow meat, which is banned in Delhi, was being served, which was found false as the canteen uses buffalo meat.

But late in the evening, a source said the canteen had placed an order for buffalo meat for delivery tomorrow. "Depending on the instructions we get, we will decide whether to cook it or not," the source said.

In case the famed beef fry makes a comeback tomorrow, the canteen can expect brisk business, considering the profile the dish has acquired after Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy, Bengal's Mamata Banerjee and Delhi's Arvind Kejriwal spoke out for culinary freedom.

Chandy sent a letter to the Prime Minister, calling the police step "tresspassing" and describing it as "highly objectionable".

"Strongly condemning what happened at Kerala Bhavan," Mamata tweeted: "An unwise and unhealthy attempt to curb fundamental rights of people. Intolerance."

Kejriwal asked through a tweet: "Will Del Police go n arrest a CM from a state Bhavan in del if they suspect the CM to be eating something that BJP or Modiji don't like?"

At Kerala House on Jantar Mantar Road, the lunch queue was flanked by TV cameras. While no one was heard ordering beef, a few asked when the dish would be back on the menu. Attendants repeated the same answer: "Beef is not served here."

Renjith, a student from Kozhikode in north Kerala, ordered Malabar chicken biryani. "Why are you bothered about what we eat here? This is our state's cuisine. I am not dying to eat beef but I would like it to be back on the menu," he told a TV channel.

Journalists, some of them regulars at the canteen, held a protest against the police action. Some CPM leaders organised a sit-in protest.

Delhi police commissioner B.S. Bassi tried to firefight by projecting his force as a protector.

"We could not ignore a communally sensitive complaint call to the police control room. The plaintiff Vishnu Gupta is known to create mischief. That's why the station house officers... rushed to make enquiries. Once the canteen staff told us that no cow meat is served here, the beat constables were asked to watch the building to prevent any mischief by Gupta," Bassi told reporters.

But former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju told NDTV that only officials from the animal husbandry department and a veterinary official, not the police, could have entered the premises after receiving the complaint.

Bassi said the police were examining whether a case could be filed against Gupta for making a false complaint.

Gupta displayed "compliments" he purportedly received on WhatsApp from people supporting his action against beef.