Kolkata: A section of intellectuals and NGOs hit the streets against the rising intolerance in the country, by organising an open beef party here on Friday.
Poets, theatre artists, political leaders took part in the protest programme where speakers rallied against recent events like the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri of Uttar Pradesh over rumours that he had consumed beef, the murder of Kannada rationalist scholar M.M. Kalburgi, and the police "raid" in Delhi's Kerala House.
Organised by the NGO 'Bhasa O Chetana Samiti' (Language and Awareness Forum), the protest saw many of the participants consuming beef and putting the meat into each other's mouth. However, vegetables and sweets were available for those unwilling to eat beef.
Carrying placards and banners saying "aap ruche khana" (eat according to your taste), the protestors said the banning of beef was an attack on plularism that is the essence of India's existence.
"Our protest is against this conspiracy,a said noted lawyer and prominent CPI-M leader Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya.
Poet Subodh Sarkar said citizens of West Bengal were very much aware of the happenings in the country. "So they have joined the protest, which is symbolic. They are consuming beef at a public place to protest against the interference with their food habits."
Former state minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah said some people were bent on sparking trouble in the country by disrupting communal harmony. "So we have come together against the attempts to disrupt peace".
Angry over the protest, Bharatiya Janata Party state president Rahul Sinha said it was organised to pamper the minorities.
"This beef party has hurt religious sentiments. The CPI-M and the Trinamool have joined hands in their heinous bid to promote politics of minority appeasement," he said.