Months after a row broke out in Tamil Nadu over the non-inclusion of beef in a biryani fest at Ambur, a state SC/ST Commission has said avoiding the delicacy in a government event would amount to "discrimination".
The Tamil Nadu State Commission for Adi Dravidar and Scheduled Tribes said there should not be any kind of discrimination in events held by the government.
The Commission said it had received a representation from a local Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) labour front functionary, alleging that non-inclusion of beef biryani in the event amounted to "food discrimination" against a significant SC population living in and around Ambur.
The District Collector had announced there would be no beef biryani segment in the food festival, the Commission said in a release on Monday.
The "Ambur Biryani Thiruvizha 2022" in May, aiming for the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for the popular delicacy from Ambur, about 186 km from here, was then deferred by the district administration citing forecast of rains even as the row broke out.
The Commission said it subsequently issued a show-cause notice to Tirupathur Collector Amar Kushwaha, saying his announcement amounted to "official discrimination" against the two lakh-odd SC/ST members in the Ambur area, asking why action should not be taken against him.
But, after deferring the event, the Collector reportedly said the Commission action won't apply to him as the event has been postponed, it said in the release.
While this amounted to "disrespecting" the commission, attracting separate action, it however decided against doing so considering his post and respect among the people.
In his reply to the commission's notice, the official had claimed pork was not used in biryani which seemed like an effort to "garner local Muslims' support," it added.
"But this did not create the desired impact," the release said but added it accepted his contention that the district administration did not show any casteist discrimination as regards the biryani fest.
"While accepting the Collector's reply, the Commission points out that beef biryani should not be avoided in a biryani festival organised by the government and if done so, it leads to discrimination." In the near future, the district administration should not give place to any such discrimination and the direction was being forwarded to the state Chief Secretary, Home Secretary and all senior officials in all districts, it said.