A politician who belongs to a party allied with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party is accused of trying to force-feed a Muslim government canteen worker who was observing Ramadan.
The incident has sparked national uproar as video appearing to show the attempts of the Hindu nationalist politician, a member of Shiv Sena, made the rounds on national television. India's opposition parties protested against the incident, and both houses of Parliament were adjourned for the day amid the furor, according to the BBC.
The incident occurred apparently because a group of 11 politicians was said to be dissatisfied with the food offered in the government canteen. The politician who allegedly tried to force-feed a chapati, or Indian bread, to the worker said he was doing so to try to make the worker taste the food — which he deemed stale and hard.
The politicians involved belong to Shiv Sena, a party with "a history of intimidation and creating unrest against minorities," according to Britain's Guardian newspaper.
The flare-up comes amid the rising power of Modi and Hindu nationalist parties in India. Modi's government is under heavy scrutiny because of allegations that he did little to stop riots in 2002 in his home state while he was chief minister. The events resulted in the death of hundreds of Muslims and even led the United States to deny Modi a visa. The visa ban has since been overturned.
Many Indians took to social media voice outrage, with "Shiv Sena MPs" trending on Twitter.
Here is one of India's most popular writers:
If news of Shiv Sena MPs bullying and forcing staffer to eat during his Ramzan fast is true, it is disturbing and sick.
— Chetan Bhagat (@chetan_bhagat) July 23, 2014
And an opposition party:
We demand LS Speaker sud immediately order time-bound probe into highly shameful n inhuman act by Shiv Sena MPs in Maharashtra Sadan.
— Aam Aadmi Party (@AamAadmiParty) July 23, 2014