The festival organized by various Dalit student union at the NRSH Hostel on the OU campus on Sunday at 5 pm saw violence erupting in the campus. The police had to be called in to disperse the mob by firing tear gas shells. They also destroyed many cars and bikes in the melee. [UPDATE: After bloody 'beef festival'; more such festivals planned]
The beef festival saw the active participation of 1,500 students and some professors who savoured the beef preparations in order to express their cultural identity and traditional right to consume the food they prefer. They also wanted to send across the strong message of shunning “food fascism” in university hostels.
The tiff kicked off when a particular group wanted to organize such a festival while another group did not want such a beef festival to take place in the university premises. A police official has been quoted as saying, “The festival was intended to make the point that upper caste diktats over food habits needed to be resisted, however, another group of students opposed the idea on the ground that it is against Indian culture.”
The violence sparked when a group of 300 students came together and carried out a rally at 6:30 pm opposing the beef festival. The police blocked the protestors from entering the campus and closed all the entry and exit gates. Irked by this, the students pelted stones at the police and the hostel. After much effort by the police, the matter was brought under control with the help of lathi charge and teargas.
P Ashok Kumar, OU police station inspector said that no charges have been registered as no complaint has been lodged yet. The police are contemplating to book charges against the miscreants who set the OB van on fire and damaged private vehicles.