Shiv Sena MPs caught force-feeding fasting Muslim employee
NEW DELHI: A Shiv Sena MP was caught on a video
footage apparently force-feeding a fasting Muslim employee in the New
Maharashtra Sadan here 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
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 earlier said 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 of 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 the Shiv Sena. The Lok Sabha also witnessed a
walkout by the 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
“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.”
In a bid to calm frayed tempers in Lok Sabha, Union
Minister M Venkaiah Naidu dismissed the allegations against the Sena MPs as ‘unsubstantiated’
and said they need to be verified first lest they raise communal passions.