New Delhi: A Shiv Sena MP was caught on a video footage apparently force-feeding a fasting Muslim employee in the New Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi sparking outrage and a huge uproar in Parliament on Wednesday amid demands for action against its MPs involved in the incident and calls to avoid giving communal tinge.
As the unsavoury episode escalated into a major controversy, sources in the Sadan, which is the guesthouse of the Maharashtra government, said it was a fall out of a group of Shiv Sena MPs being allegedly upset over the quality of food served there. Claiming there was no one to take note of their complaint, the MPs then allegedly barged into the canteen and questioned an employee of the caterer observing Roza and who was identified as Arshad Zubair. Watched by his party colleagues, Rajan Vichare in a fit of rage tried to thrust a roti in the mouth of the employee during the incident that was reported to have happened last week.
The shaken employee, who had his name tag on his shirt, appeared to plead to the MP not to do this to him. Vichare, who initially claimed that he did not do anything as made out after the footage was aired on TV channels, later said he regretted the incident.
“I did not know the person’s name, caste or community,” he had said earlier in the day. As anger mounted over his action, Vichare later said, “I came to know that the employee was a Muslim only after seeing TV footage and I regret it”. He also claimed that he was only trying to draw the attention for authorities to poor quality of food served at the Sadan.
Opposition parties seized on the incident that came as an embarrassment for the BJP-led NDA government and said it was an apt case to refer to the Parliament’s Ethics Committee. The issue was raised in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha by opposition members who demanded action against the Shiv Sena MPs who vociferously denied the reports.
After the uproar by opposition, the two Houses witnessed brief adjournments as agitated members wanted to raise the issue which was staunchly opposed by Shiv Sena. The Lok Sabha also witnessed a walkout by Congress, NCP, Left, PDP and AIMIM.
Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray said the uproar over the incident was an attempt to “silence” his party’s voice. He, however, said despite being a votary of Hindutva, Shiv Sena had no hatred for other religions. “This (uproar over the incident) is an attempt to silence Shiv Sena’s voice. We are proponents of Hindutva but we don’t have hatred for other religions,” Uddhav told reporters in Aurangabad.
The IRCTC, the Indian Railways subsidiary that was catering for the Sadan, stopped all operations at the Sadan in protest and complained in writing to the Maharashtra Resident Commissioner, saying the employee had been “deeply pained and hurt…as religious sentiments are attached.”
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