India's tourism minister asks foreigners to eat beef in home countries before coming

Added On September 8, 2017

NEW DELHI, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- India's new Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons has courted controversy by advising foreigners to "eat beef in their own countries" before coming to India.

"They (tourists) can eat beef in their own country and come here," the minister told the media when asked about the growing cow vigilantism in India, on the sidelines of a tourism convention in the eastern Indian state of Odisha's capital Bhubaneswar Thursday.

The minister's comments were a complete U-turn to his remarks made Monday, a day after being sworn into office, when he said India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) does not impose any "food code" for states.

"I don't think India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prescribes a food code for every state... Goa is a beef-eating state and Goa shall continue to be a beef-eating state... Kerala is a beef-eating state and it shall continue to eat beef," he said.

His comments also came a day after India's Supreme Court asked the central government and the state governments to take immediate steps to prevent cow vigilantism in the country.

Cows are revered as sacred animals among India's Hindus, and there are strict laws on their slaughter and beef consumption in several parts of the country, particularly in states governed by the ruling BJP.

According to official statistics, nearly a dozen people have been killed in attacks by cow protectors in the past three years.

Modi has at least twice condemned the attacks on Dalits and Muslims by cow vigilantes, saying murder in the name of cow protection "is not acceptable," but that has not deterred the attackers.