Delhi ‘beef raid’ causes outrage

Beef consumption has become a topic of discussion after the lynching of a 50-year-old Muslim man over allegations that he had eaten beef. Photo: AP

The canteen of a Delhi guesthouse belonging to the southern Indian state of Kerala was visited by police after a rightwing Hindu group complained it had beef on its menu.

Staff told police that "beef" items on their menu were actually buffalo meat.

Police said they only went to Kerala House as a "preventive measure" and not to investigate the complaint or take meat samples.

Kerala is one of the few Indian states in which cow slaughter is legal.

Following the incident, the police picked up the caller from the Hindu Sena for further questioning.

"We dealt with the matter with necessary alertness and took our position. The objective was to ensure that law and order is not disrupted," Jatin Narwal, a senior police officer, told the NDTV news site.

Beef outrage

However, Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy condemned the police for visiting Kerala House at all, telling Indian television channels that they should have shown restraint.

Despite not facing any charges, Kerala House has decided to take all beef items off its menu and media reports say that staff members have asked for police protection.

The incident has led to outrage on both social and mainstream media.

"Kerala's famed beef curry has been an annoying bone that got stuck in the throat of the Sangh parivar [Hindu hardline group], especially because many Hindus in the state relish the dish," an editorial in the Telegraph newspaper said.

Arun Shourie, who was a minister in the former BJP government, also criticised the current situation. "People have started recalling the days of [former prime minister] Manmohan Singh. The way to characterise the policies of the government is - Congress plus a cow. The policies are the same," he said at a function in Delhi.

"Kerala House" was one of the top trends on Twitter India, with many criticising the government as well as what they saw as overzealous police action.

The issue of beef consumption has become a topic of discussion after a 50-year-old Muslim man was lynched in north India over allegations that he had consumed beef.

Government ministers from the Hindu nationalist BJP said the incident was a "spontaneous expression of anger", while the chief minister of the northern state of Haryana said the cow "is an article of faith" in India.

The beef ban has provoked outrage, with many questioning the government's right to decide what is on their plate.

It has also been criticised by many as beef is cheaper than chicken and fish and is a staple for the poorer Muslim, tribal and Dalit (formerly untouchable) communities.