New Delhi: A police 'raid' on Kerala House here to check if it served beef triggered a storm on Tuesday, with the chief ministers of Kerala, Delhi and West Bengal as well as Left leaders condemning the "intolerance" and demanding action against Delhi Police - which reports to the central government.
Although there was no response from the central government, Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi insisted that his men did not "raid" Kerala Police on Monday and broke no law. He said police only wanted to prevent possible trouble after they got a complaint that beef was served in the canteen of Kerala House, located in the heart of the capital.
Kerala House promptly took off "Carabeef" (buffalo meat) from its menu after some 20 policemen entered the premises and made inquiries and made it clear that it was not cow meat. On Tuesday, Kerala House said beef would return to its menu from Wednesday.
After calling the police action "unwarranted and unfortunate", Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking action against Delhi Police.
Chandy said the "raid was conducted without any permission or prior intimation to the Resident Commissioner.
"I would like to inform you that Kerala House serves authentic Kerala cuisine, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. All the items on the menu are in accordance with and entirely with the confines of law."
He asked Modi to instruct Home Minister Rajnath Singh to take appropriate action against the guilty police officers.
Earlier, speaking in Kozhikode, Chandy said the police "raid" was "unwarranted and unfortunate". "The police action is not acceptable. Delhi Police was wrong in what they did.
"Kerala House is not a private hotel. It is the official building of the Kerala government."
Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said he would meet Delhi's Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung with a complaint against Delhi Police, which reports to Jung and to the central home ministry.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Jatin Narwal told IANS that they got a complaint from a Vishnu Gupta of the little known Hindu Sena, and his men went to Kerala House to verify the facts.
"We did not raid the premises. Our responsibility is to maintain law and order," he said. "We discussed the matter with the guest house officials."
Congress leader and former Kerala chief minister A.K. Antony did not comment on the Monday incident but said India, from being a land of peace, was passing through a tough time since Modi became the prime minister.
"Today it has come to a stage that what one can eat, what one can wear and what one can write are coming under the scrutiny of the BJP, RSS, Sangh Parivar," Antony said in Thiruvananthapuram.
In Kolkata, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said: "I strongly condemn what happened at Kerala House. An unwise and unhealthy attempt to curb fundamental rights of people. Intolerance."
Among the first to blast Delhi Police was Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who said Chandy was right in saying that Kerala House was not a private hotel.
"Delhi Police had no business to enter Kerala House. It is an attack on (the federal) structure. Delhi Police is acting like a BJP Sena," the Aam Aadmi Party leader said.
Separately, the AAP said it "strongly condemns the completely unjustified raid at Kerala House.
"Delhi Police under BJP has lost all sense of impartiality and professionalism and is behaving like a rightwing frontal organisation of the BJP."
The AAP said it was shocking that state bhavans, the official seats of representation of state governments, were being targeted by the BJP-led central government.
"The Narendra Modi-led BJP government is playing a dangerous game by trampling the basic principles of federalism in our democracy, through its rogue police," it said.
The AAP urged the home ministry to take action against the concerned police officers.