New Delhi: Attacked for "overstepping" its brief, Delhi Police on Tuesday clarified that it did not "raid" the Kerala House after complaint of beef on its menu and said it was mulling acting against the caller who lodged a "false complaint".
Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi said police did not "raid" the canteen, as it is being projected, and claimed to have acted on a PCR call. He also said he is yet to receive any complaint in connection with the case. However, the complaint will be acted upon as soon as it is received.
"The moment we receive any complaint, we will act upon it. Otherwise also, we are contemplating action against the caller under Section 182 (false information, with intent to cause public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person) of IPC," said Bassi.
The top city policemen said that the PCR call regarding the beef complaint was given priority because it had the potential to disrupt harmony between communities and could have had "disastrous consequences", especially because of the "past record" of the concerned caller, identified as Vishnu Gupta.
"The caller was already in police's notice because of his past record," said Bassi, adding that the officials deployed outside Kerala House to keep a watch were instructed to take preventive action in case Vishnu Gupta and his associates were caught doing any "mischief".
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy condemning the "raid" as "highly objectionable" and shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in protest complaining that Delhi police "overstepped" their brief. Several Kerala MPs also staged protest at the entrance to Kerala House today.
Reading from the PCR logs, Bassi said that Vishnu Gupta went to Kerala House and claimed to have taken note of beef present in the lunch menu there. He did not take food there and claimed to have entered into a scuffle with the staff. Gupta, who is the National President of right-wing group Hindu Sena, said that a friend had tipped them off about beef being served at the Kerala House canteen.
"When we went there to check, we found that names of all items were written in English, except one. When we asked whether the one written in Malayalam was beef, the staff there couldn't give a convincing answer. So we reported the matter to the police," Gupta claimed.
Gupta also alleged that an activist in his group, who he claimed escorted police officials inside the canteen, was allegedly beaten up by the staff there and the police failed to take necessary action in the case.
Earlier in the day, Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi had called it a preventive action, but in the evening the term "preventive" was dropped.
"It was not a raid. It, in fact, was a preventive measure as per our standing operating procedures. We had alerted their private security staff as soon as we got a call to prevent any protest. We also deployed possible security measures and alerted the staff working there," Bassi had told reporters in the afternoon.
On being asked about reports that the state guest house removed "beef curry" from their menu before police could reach, he said, "I don't have any knowledge about it...we have been informed by the staff that there was no beef item on their menu."
In the evening, Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat dropped the term "preventive" and said, "No raid was conducted at Kerala House by Delhi Police. The police had gone there to attend a PCR call."
Around 4.15 PM on Tuesday, the police control room (PCR) received a call by a Hindu Sena activist, who reported that beef was being served at the canteen of Kerala House. The police took no chance and SHO of Connaught Place, who was already in an arrangement, was asked to rush there.
After a preliminary check, he passed the matter to SHO Parliament Street, who after some basic inquiry, deployed a few officials there to keep check.
"We received a call by a person who had come into notice for taking law in his own hands. We sent a police team to Kerala House to inquire about the matter and the staff there were also informed about the PCR call," said the top city cop.
"The staff at Kerala House were also asked to keep an eye for any potential mischief in the premises. The police were alert and officials were put on alert to avoid any untoward incident," said Bassi.
As far as the right to inquire such matters is concerned, there was no illegal conduct on part of the police, said the commissioner, citing the Delhi Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act, 1994, under which slaughter of cows, calves, bulls and bullocks and the possession of their flesh are illegal in Delhi-NCR.
Security was beefed up and scores of police officials were deployed outside the premises of Kerala Bhawan on Tuesday on a "precautionary watch" to ensure that law and order is maintained.
Meanwhile, DCP (New Delhi) Jatin Narwal maintained that there was no information about any gate-crash by right-wing activists at Kerala House. "However, the police are alert to deal with any situation," he added. The BJP justified the police action, saying it was only making inquiries following a complaint and was well within its right under the law of the land.