Political fight erupts over Kerala House 'beef' row

Political fight erupts over Kerala House 'beef' row
A political row broke out today over Delhi police entering the state-run Kerala House on a complaint that it serves beef with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy condemning the "raid" as "unfortunate" and he was also backed by his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal.

Using the incident to hit out at the Modi government, Kejriwal, the AAP chief, said the police action was an "attack on the federal structure", a charge rejected by BJP.

The BJP justified the police action at the restaurant in Kerala government's guest house in Delhi, saying it was only making inquiries following a complaint and was well within its right under the law of the land.

Accusing Chandy of "politicising" the issue, BJP said serving of beef in restaurants in Delhi was illegal. The Kerala House dismissed allegations that beef curry was served at its premises, saying that only buffalo meat was offered. However, it has temporarily taken buffalo meat off the canteen menu.

It said that a complaint has been lodged over entry of activists without permission yesterday following a call to police complaining about cow meat on the canteen menu.

"Kerala House is not a private hotel or an institution run for making profit. It is an official guest house of the state government. The police action was really unfortunate. They should have shown some restraint before carrying out searches," Chandy, a Congress leader, said in Kozhikode, while voicing his protest. Cutting across party lines, state political leaders supported Chandy.

Chandy said some people were unnecessarily creating a row over the beef ban and that his government would take up the issue of Delhi Police's action with the Centre.

Kerala Chief Secretary Jiji Thomson while categorically denying that cow meat was served at Kerala House said they will wait for "police action" in the wake of the complaint by the state's Resident Commissioner over entry of activists.

"I totally deny that cow meat was served here (canteen of Kerala House). Only buffalo meat is served," Thomson said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also waded into the beef row. "I strongly condemn what happened in Delhi at Kerala Bhavan. An unwise and unhealthy attempt to curb fundamental rights of people. Intolerance," she said.

A PCR call by a person claiming to belong to a fringe right-wing group yesterday complaining that beef was being served at Kerala House's canteen had seen Delhi Police personnel rush to the premises.

Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said the incident amounted to an infringement of the powers of the state. Kerala government would soon send a letter to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi expressing the state's strong protest over the issue, he added.

Kejriwal while condemning the "raid" by Delhi Police wondered if a CM would be arrested from a state guest house if he was suspected of eating something that BJP does not like.
"It is an attack on federal structure. Delhi police is acting like BJP Sena," he said.

Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi on his part said, "It was not a raid. It was in fact a preventive measure as per our standing operating procedures."

Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu rejected Kejriwal's remark that the police action was an attack on federal structure, saying police was only making inquiries.

"The police action was right and was a preventive measure within the law of land. Chandy is trying to politicise the incident," BJP spokesman Siddharnath Nath Singh. Congress leader Tom Vadakkan accused the Delhi Police of indulging in "moral policing".

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