India's parliament erupted in anger yesterday after television footage showed a hardline Hindu nationalist lawmaker apparently trying to force-feed a Muslim man during the fasting month of Ramadan.
Opposition Congress MPs launched raucous protests in the parliament, saying the lawmaker had violated the man's religious beliefs by aggressively trying to shove a chapati or piece of bread in his mouth.
"It is absolutely reprehensible and should be condemned in the strongest possible manner," Congress party spokesman Manish Tewari later told reporters.
The lawmaker is from the hardline Hindu nationalist outfit Shiv Sena, a key ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party which swept to power in May elections.
The incident is likely to fan concern among Muslims and other religious minorities over Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party government.
The footage, aired on national television, showed a group of Shiv Sena lawmakers confronting a catering supervisor last Thursday in New Delhi.
The lawmakers were complaining about the quality of food offered at a guest house for officials from the state of Maharashtra, where Shiv Sena is based.
The footage showed lawmaker Rajan Baburao Vichare attempting several times to push the bread into the supervisor's mouth as a crowd gathered.
Vichare said he was not trying to break the supervisor's religious fast. Instead he was trying to demonstrate that the chapatis being served were too hard.