Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Tuesday shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narenda Modi terming the entry of Delhi Police personnel into Kerala House in the nation's capital to check whether beef was being served there at the instigation of a Hindutva activist as "highly objectionable".
Chandy demanded that Modi take strong action following the incident. Both the ruling and opposition Left parties on Tuesday came together on the issue in the state and two key Kerala MPs vowed to raise the issue in Parliament during the Winter session.
Congress Deputy Chief Whip in Lok Sabha, KC Venugopal, and CPI(M) Deputy leader in Rajya Sabha, KN Balagopal, said they would take up the incident and raise the issue of killings in the name of consumption of beef when Parliament meets next month.
In his letter to the Prime minister, Chandy termed as "highly objectionable" the raid by Delhi Police at the canteen at Kerala House and sought stringent action against those responsible for the action at the state-run guest house.
"I feel that the action by Delhi Police is highly objectionable and they have clearly overstepped their brief," the Chief Minister said.
The roiling controversy over beef reached the official state house of the Government of Kerala in New Delhi when it decided to remove buffalo meat from its menu on Monday after police entered the place following a call to them by a Hindutva activist complaining about beef being served there.
In Kozhikode, earlier in the day, Chandy flayed the Delhi Police for its action. "The police action is not acceptable. Delhi Police was wrong in what they did," Chandy told media. "Kerala House is not a private hotel. It's the official building of the Kerala government. We will take appropriate steps after going through all that happened yesterday (Monday)," he said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday backed Oommen Chandy. "I strongly condemn Delhi Police raid on Kerala House. I agree with Kerala Chief Minister (Oommen Chandy) that Kerala House is a government establishment and not a private hotel," Kejriwal tweeted. "Delhi Police had no business to enter Kerala House. It is an attack on (federal) structure. Delhi Police is acting like BJP Sena," the Aam Aadmi Party leader added.
The police 'raid' on Kerala House came after Hindu Sena leader Vishnu Gupta called the police control room (PCR) on Monday complaining that Kerala House is serving beef. "The caller was Hindu Sena leader Vishnu Gupta. We will be talking to him," The Indian Express quoted a police officer as saying.
Soon after receiving the information, the police arrived at the site and started inspecting the food that was being served at the time, Assistant Protocol Officer at Kerala House Joseph said, according to a Deccan Herald report.
"At 4 pm, when the lunch was being served, three people accompanied by two policemen arrived inside Kerala House and started shouting at the staff that beef is served here, after that they started inspecting the food. After 15 minutes Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) arrived at the spot and the situation was brought under control," Joseph said.
The police, however, claimed that they had reached the Kerala House to avoid any untoward incident from taking place.
"We received a PCR call at 3.30 pm about beef being served at Kerala House. We intimated the authorities of Kerala House and police personnel went inside the place to ensure that no incident takes place," said Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Jatin Narwal.
The Kerala House said that they serve buffalo meat, not cow meat, and have been buying the former from a New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC)-approved slaughter house.
"We purchase our meat products from authorised meat sellers in Delhi. Nowhere in Delhi is cow's meat is sold, then how can we have it on the menu? We serve 'beef fry' occasionally, and it's buffalo's meat, not cow's," Joseph said.
To avoid any controversy over beef, the Kerala House has decided to remove buffalo meat from the menu.