Terming the recent incident of Shiv Sena MPs force-feeding a fasting Muslim as "regrettable" and "unfortunate", the government on Friday said it is committed to safeguard religious freedom of every citizen in India.
Making a statement on this issue in the Rajya Sabha, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said: "I would like to inform this House through Hon'ble chairman that the incident was regrettable and unfortunate."
"I would also like to inform that our government is committed to safeguard religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution to its citizen," he said. The minister also asked members of the Upper House that "we should all make constant efforts for maintaining religious harmony in our country."
Sharing factual details of the incident, Singh said as per the report received from rpt from the Maharashtra government: "On July 17 at around 11.30 am a few MPs from Maharasthra expressed their objection to the quality of food being served by IRCTC at the New Maharashtra Sadan (in the national capital). Thereafter, they demanded immediate discontinuation of IRCTC services there." It has also been informed that MPs entered the front office and also the kitchen room of the Resident Commissioner and expressed their objection, he said.
Singh said "Thereafter, they reportedly tried to feed chapati to Arshad Zubair, resident manager of IRCTC, while taking exception to the quality of food being served." "No complaint has been filed by Arshad Zubair with the local police. The Resident Commissioner of Maharashtra Sadan has apprised the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra about this matter. However, no complaint has been filed by him," he said.
Subsequently, the IRCTC terminated contract with the Maharashtra Sadan by a letter on July 18 for providing catering and IT services. It has been informed by the IRCTC that its decision to the aforesaid effect is final and irreversible, he added.
For last two days, there was uproar over this incident in both Houses of Parliament and some members had demanded a statement from the government.