There has been uproar in India’s parliament after reports that some Hindu MPs tried to forcibly feed a Muslim man who is fasting for Ramadan.
The MPs belonging to the right-wing Shiv Sena party were reportedly angry because they were not served food of their choice at a government canteen.
The regional party is also an ally of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Muslims around the world abstain from food and drink from before dawn until dusk during the Islamic holy month.
Opposition parties, led by the Congress, have protested in the parliament against the incident, saying it was a “violation of religious belief”. They have also demanded an apology from the Shiv Sena.
According to reports, the incident happened on Tuesday after a group of Shiv Sena MPs from Maharashtra state objected to the non-availability of food of their choice at a government guesthouse canteen in Delhi and forced a piece of bread into the mouth of a Muslim canteen worker.
The Indian Express newspaper said within hours of the incident, catering services at the guesthouse were stopped, with the supplier complaining that the Muslim worker had been “deeply pained and hurt… as religious sentiments are attached”.
A video is also being shown on several news channel which claims to show a Shiv Sena MP “forcing the Muslim staffer to eat” during his Ramadan fast.
Shiv Sena, a powerful regional party based in Maharashtra, has denied the incident.
“There was no intent to hurt religious sentiments… now it appears the Sena’s version is being suppressed,” party chief Uddhav Thackeray told NDTV news channel.
Another party MP Sanjay Raut told The Times of India that “there seems to be a plot to give a communal [religious] twist to the entire episode”.
He said the MPs were “only agitating against the sloppy management” of the guesthouse.
Video footage can be found here: