Uproar after India MP 'force-feeds' Muslim fasting worker

Opposition says lawmaker violated the man's religious beliefs.


Afp July 23, 2014

NEW DELHI: India's parliament erupted in anger on Wednesday after television footage showed a hard-line Hindu nationalist lawmaker apparently trying to force-feed a Muslim man during the fasting month of Ramazan.

Opposition Congress MPs launched raucous protests in the parliament, saying the lawmaker had violated the man's religious beliefs by aggressively trying to force a chapati in his mouth.

"It is absolutely reprehensible and should be condemned in the strongest possible manner," Congress party spokesman Manish Tewari later told reporters.

The lawmaker is from the hard-line Hindu nationalist outfit Shiv Sena, a key ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party which swept to power at May elections.

The incident is likely to fan concern among Muslims and other religious minorities over Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.

The footage, aired on national television, showed a group of Shiv Sena lawmakers confronting a catering supervisor last Thursday in New Delhi.

The lawmakers were complaining about the quality of food offered at a guest house for officials from the state of Maharashtra, where Shiv Sena is based.

The footage showed lawmaker Rajan Baburao Vichare attempting several times to push the bread into the supervisor's mouth as a crowd gathered.



Vichare said he was not trying to break the supervisor's religious fast. Instead he was trying to demonstrate that the chapatis being served were too hard.

"This was only a protest against the quality of food and other arrangements at the Maharashtra Sadan (guest house) where all the important dignitaries come and stay," Vichare told Headlines Today news channel.

"The canteen management here is in a bad state. The chapatis they made didn't even break, the quality of vegetables and pulses is bad."

"Making this a religious issue doesn't make sense," he said.

The catering company's general manager said the supervisor had been "deeply pained and hurt" over the incident as "religious sentiments are attached".

The manager said the lawmakers had marched into the dining hall last week flanked by television crews and threw kitchen items around.

"They also issued physical threats to the kitchen and service staff while using highly objectionable language," the manager said in an email to a Maharashtra government official, which was obtained by the Indian Express newspaper.

Shiv Sena, which has a history of intimidation and creating unrest against minorities, won 18 seats at the election and is now the sixth biggest party in parliament.

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COMMENTS (50)

VINOD | 6 years ago | Reply

@dada: I do not care if Pakistanis and Indians understand your long long defence of this barbaric and uncouth act of an MP. The truth is his behavior needs strict action against him. All your story about Maharashtra Bhavan may be true but what right any one has to take law in his hand and degrade and torture a staff member. I am sure you will not dare to do some thing like this in any hotel and if you do you will be arrested for this barbaric conduct. This MP has put the entire parliament of India to shame and deserves no sympathy or justification.

Gurion | 6 years ago | Reply

@sudeep:

Really really pathetic. I am so ashamed as an Indian.

Be comforted Sir, for rest of India is ashamed of your lack of factual knowledge.

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