Thiruvananthapuram: Police don't have a mandate to prevent the holding of 'beef festivals', and will intervene only if they turn violent and become a law and order issue, Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said on Thursday.
"Police do not have a mandate to intervene in stopping such events as they have no mandate on food habits, but police will intervene if it becomes a law and order issue," Chennithala told reporters here.
Beef festivals started in the state last week when the CPI-M's students' wing SFI organised an event at the Sree Kerala Varma College in Thrissur.
As ABVP activists opposed the event, the college authorities suspended six students from the SFI for conducting the festival.
Deepa Nisanth, a woman professor at Sree Kerala Varma College, took to the social media to express her displeasure over the way the college handled the situation.
The SFI and the Kerala Students Union (KSU), the state branch of the Congress-affiliated National Students Union of India, have been holding beef festivals across college campuses, even as the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) has been opposing all such events.
On Thursday, students at Baselious College in Kottayam served beef to fellow students and passers-by outside the main gate, but police were deployed to ensure that things do not go out of hand.
In another college, angry students on Thursday heckled a TV personality who had taken a stand against beef festivals while participating in TV debates.
Rahul Eashweran was invited to a function, and as he was leaving, angry students confronted him and demanded that he change his stand.
When he refused, the students smashed the windscreen of his car. Eashweran later filed a police complaint.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan said "fascists" were on the prowl because of the support they were getting from the central government.
"These fascist forces are trying to influence the young generation," he said.