CHENNAI: The State Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Commission on Monday ordered that beef biriyani should not be avoided in government-organised festivals as it would amount to discrimination against people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
This commission has sent the order to the chief secretary, home secretary, and higher officials in all the districts nearly three months after the exclusion of beef biriyani in a biriyani festival planned at Ambur by the Tirupattur district administration courted controversy. The ‘Ambur Biriyani Festival 2022’, an event aimed at getting a geographical indication (GI) tag for the famous biriyani, was slated to be held on May 13, 14, and 15. Collector Amar Kushwaha, who had initially said beef would be excluded, later called off the event citing rains when several groups started protesting the exclusion.
Several SC organisations in Ambur had termed the exclusion of beef as untouchability practised against them through food, and announced they would set up beef biryani stalls outside the festival venue. Subsequently, VCK State deputy secretary C Omprakasam wrote to the commission on May 12 asking it to look into the issue. “The authorities are trying to enforce untouchability through food by excluding the staple diet of the Scheduled Caste people. People, who eat only beef, can’t participate in the festival. We feel that this move amounts to psychological violence against us and the commission should order to allow beef biriyani in the festival,” he wrote.
Following this, the commission sought an explanation from the district administration on May 12, stating the exclusion of beef was an ‘official’ discrimination against two lakh people. Soon after, the collector announced that the festival was being postponed due to rain. Later, he also gave an interview to an English daily stating that the commission’s order was not valid as the festival had been cancelled.
The commission in its order on Monday said such an interview would amount to contempt and action could be initiated against the collector. However, it was refraining from doing so as such as move would reduce his respect among the people as he is the chief administrative officer of the district, it said. The commission further added that it accepted the collector’s reply that the district administration did not intend to discriminate against people on the basis of caste.
On the collector’s reply, noting that pork too had been excluded from the festival, the commission said the collector had put forth such an argument to garner the support of the Muslim community as pork is not used anywhere to make biriyani. However, the statement didn’t have the desired result, the commission said.
It’s psychological violence, says VCK
VCK State deputy secretary C Omprakasam wrote to the commission on May 12 asking it to look into the issue: “People, who eat only beef, can’t participate in the festival. We feel this move amounts to psychological violence against us and the panel should order to allow beef biriyani in the festival.”