INDIA has made headlines for its intolerance towards beef consumption, and recently, Union Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons kicked off a row by saying that overseas tourists should eat beef in their own countries before visiting India.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 33rd annual convention of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) in Odisha’s capital city Bhubaneswar, Alphons said: “They (foreign tourists) can consume beef in their respective countries and then come here.”
Alphons – who took over as Minister of State for Tourism last week – made the comment when asked about whether cow vigilantism and restrictions on beef consumption in several states had affected India’s hospitality sector.
"EAT BEEF IN YOUR COUNTRY &THEN COME TO INDIA" -K.J.Alphons (New Tourism Mins)
& ppl said Modi was appeasing Christians by appointing him 😂
— susmita chakraborty (@sush091979) September 8, 2017
However, just days before the IATO event, Alphons dismissed concerns over cow vigilantism and said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration was a tolerant one.
He said, “The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) does not mandate that beef cannot be eaten. We don’t dictate food habits in any place. It is for the people to decide.”
India has long been embroiled in a “food war” over the consumption of beef. The BBC recently reported vigilante groups that call for the ban of beef sales had been formed and they’ve attempted to bring down those who transport beef products.
Prime Minister Modi has spoken out against attacks by right-wing Hindus, many of whom back his BJP, against minority Muslims and lower-caste Hindus accused of killing cows, considered holy by the majority Hindus.
“We will not tolerate violence in the name of faith,” he said.
**This article originally appeared on our sister website Travel Wire Asia. Additional reporting from Reuters.