The news of Delhi cops barging into Kerala House for a beef inspection is shocking. At whose behest did the Delhi Police, which works directly under the centre, carry out this raid?
Staff at the Kerala House canteen has been serving beef curry for decades. Even I have eaten beef there since the late 1980s. Most politicians and bureaucrats who visit Delhi must have dropped in at the canteen at some point. Beef delicacies are apparently the canteen’s top-selling dishes.
This is no ordinary raid. More than anything, the Delhi police’s action tramples on the pride of the Malayalee. Kerala House is our mini Secretariat – The most important power centre after Thiruvananthapuram.
It is important to note that Kerala didn’t get this building because of the largesse of some Central government in power. When Kerala was carved out as a state of the Indian Union, the Travancore Maharaja’s Delhi office was transferred to the new dispensation. Today, this is where Kerala’s administrative issues relating to the Centre are handled. For 10 lakh Malayalees who come visiting, this building is also a source of solace, a place where they can hold their heads high.
It’s surprising that cops came rushing in to check the DNA of the meat that was being cooked at the Kerala House kitchen. There would have been outrage and much talk of hurt regional sentiments if the Delhi Police had inspected the premises of the Tamil Nadu Bhavan, Andhra Bhavan, the Bihar or Uttar Pradesh Nivas. It’s a different matter that the cops would not have dared to raid any of those spaces.
I’m worried about the tepid reaction of the Kerala Chief Minister to this insult to Malayalees. Mr Oomen Chandy has advised Delhi cops to follow guidelines. Were it any other Bhavan, the Chief Minister of that State would have protested strongly before the Prime Minister. The Delhi Police would have been forced to tender an unconditional apology. There would surely have been an expression of regret from the Union Home Minister, or the Delhi Lt Governor.
Our CM, on the other hand, seems to have taken a position of servility to the Centre’s bullying. Chandy should explain why beef was taken off the menu from Kerala House canteen after the police intrusion. With this, Kerala’s meek surrender has been given an official stamp.
Consider the background of this unacceptable raid. Kerala House buys beef from meat shops approved by the Delhi Municipal Corporation. Canteen staff cannot be expected to poke into the sealed packets of meat and check if they are “legitimate”. If anyone has a complaint, they should inspect the places selling the meat.
Anyone with an iota of common sense would know that cattle are not slaughtered on the premises of Kerala House and hence, it is senseless to trespass on this property.
Now, if the Delhi Police wanted to be doubly sure of what meat was being cooked in the kitchen, they could have called up the Kerala House Resident Commissioner and taken steps to find out. But then, are Delhi Police, or any cop, qualified to correctly gauge what meat is boiling in your kitchen?
Delhi is also India’s crime capital. Every minute, there is an assault or an abuse happening somewhere in this large metropolis. The Delhi Police doesn’t rush to scenes of great crime. But when it came to the kitchen of Kerala House, they didn’t hesitate to swoop down swiftly to act.
Don’t dismiss this as a trivial incident. We are seeing the new brazenness of fascism. Some of my friends feel we should wish this away by not giving it undue importance. They will soon realize that if we don’t speak out now, there will soon come a time when people are emboldened enough to cut open our stomachs to check what we’ve eaten
John Brittas is managing director of Kairali TV (Malayalam Communications, Ltd.) This article first appeared on http://www.kairalinewsonline.com/