An Indian politician has declared war on “killer” Asian dumplings, saying teenagers' addiction to the popular local street food is “like drugs” and that they cause cancer.
Ramesh Arora, a member of the state legislative assembly in Jammu in northern India, has been waging a five-month battle against the South Asian food known as momos — tiny steamed pockets of dough with meat or vegetable filling.
“Our teenagers are getting addicted to the dumplings like drugs. It’s spoiling their health. We have to stop it,” Arora said at a demonstration Wednesday, during which he stood in front of an image of a momo with a large red cross and a slogan that read “Say no to momos.”
Arora believes the dumplings are dangerous because of the use of ajinomoto, which contains monosodium glutamate, a flavor enhancer used in many street foods. “Momo is a killer and we cannot allow a killer to grow in a civilized society. Ajinomoto is dangerous for health,” he said, according to the news website Scroll.
In 2016, he tried to control the number of momo stalls in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Some argue that Arora's campaign has xenophobic undertones and that a crackdown on momo stalls would harm the livelihoods of migrants, who typically sell the dumplings.
“He seems to be wary of ‘foreigners including Bangladeshi and Burmese’ engaged in the business of making and selling momos. …” read an article in the National Herald.
Indians took to Twitter to mock the proposed ban, which the Hindustan Times dubbed “Momogate.”
“BJP policies — 1. no homo 2. no momo” read one tweet, referring to the government's stance on homosexuality.
1. No homo
2. No momo
— POST MALLU (@nah_im_abdulla) June 8, 2017
Another tweeted that “There's nothing I want to eat more than beef momos at this point,” mocking the government's nationwide “beef ban.”