Cities & Architecture

Riders Cry Fowl as Delhi Metro Turns Into Veg-Only Zone

The Delhi Metro. Source: delhimetro.net

The Delhi Metro. Source: delhimetro.net

On the eve of Independence Day, just as I reached the Civil Lines Metro Station from my office on Rajpur Road around 5.30 pm, I encountered a curious sight. The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) guards at the frisking point were refusing to let through the person standing ahead of me in the queue, because he was carrying raw eggs (in a polythene bag). When the passenger argued, he was asked to take permission from senior CISF officials who were standing near the exit gate.

After he left, I went through frisking, and then proceeded towards the underground platform for catching the next train. But I was bothered by the biased attitude of the guards, and wanted to challenge it. I realised that a document in my laptop would help me do it, and this gave me some confidence.

I went back up the stairs towards the two CISF seniors outside the exit gate, since I had observed that they had refused to allow the person carrying raw eggs to enter. I approached them and asked whether carrying eggs in the Metro was not allowed. One of them responded that if I were carrying such items, then I should come out through the exit gate. When I told him that I wasn’t but was asking about the rules, he asked me not to bother as I was quite educated and knew the rules.

I then took my laptop out and showed both of them the document I had: it was the reply (dated 31 July 2015) by Sharat Sharma, Director (Operations), DMRCL, to my query submitted under the Right to Information Act on food items that are allowed in the Metro.

I insisted on reading the contents to one of the CISF seniors, as the other refused to look at it (though he made occasional comments): “DMRC rules do not restrict carriage of non-vegetarian food items, eatables in Delhi Metro train whether raw or cooked if they are packed properly. There is no specific list of food items allowed inside Delhi metro is available with DMRC … There are no specific stations, where travelling with packed raw non-vegetarian is banned … CISF staff is authorised to comply the instruction. (sic)

Initially, the CISF men were taken aback. When I insisted that they did not know the rules themselves, they claimed that the rules were different earlier and they did not know about the new rules. One of them even promised to try and get more information about the latest rules.

I said that as a regular officer-goer, I had never witnessed such restrictions at the Civil Lines Metro station before. However, when I said I wanted to make a complaint about them stopping the passenger for carrying eggs, and wanted to know whom to approach,  they refused to answer.

I told them that I will be writing about the incident in the papers, and emphasised that they should not harass people because of their own food preferences. In response, they said I was free to to eat whatever I feel like at home. As I left, I found the CISF jawans laughing at my silly intervention.

My first tryst with DMRC

I myself had faced a similar situation earlier, when I was stopped at the gates of the INA Market metro station for carrying packed raw meat. When seen against the backdrop of recent events like the beef ban in Maharashtra and the Madhya Pradesh government refusing to allow eggs in the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme, it prompted me to file an RTI application.

In my application, dated June 9, 2015, I had asked the public information officer (PIO) of DMRC to clarify four issues: 1) A list of all the food items (cooked and uncooked) that are allowed in the Delhi Metro; 2) whether it was illegal for passengers to carry packed raw mutton, chicken or fish (in small quantity for household consumption; 3) Whether there are specific Metro stations where such items are banned; and 4) Whether the CISF personnel posted at Delhi Metro stations stop passenger for carrying these items.

I received a bland reply (dated June 29, 2015) from one PIO named Vikas Kumar, which simply stated: Details of information sought is not available in any material form”. I filed an appeal with help from Swapna Jha of Common Cause, an organisation working on civic rights, and this time I got a detailed reply from the First Appellate Authority of DMRC, which became a handy document in my encounter with the CISF personnel.

What can DMRC do?

According to the DMRC’s website, both the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Government of India have equal stake in the company. However, the CISF comes under the ambit of the Ministry of Home Affairs. It may be possible that there is lack of coordination between the DMRC and the CISF regarding items that can be allowed inside the Metro, including eatables. However, it cannot be ruled out that the CISF guards on their own are preventing  passengers from carrying non-veg food items.

Since DMRC recently conducted a customer satisfaction survey, I hope they take note of this issue and take necessary steps to ensure passengers are not harassed unnecessarily. After all, the Delhi Metro is the lifeline of the NCR. The last thing it should have is a red line for passengers.

Shambhu Ghatak, a researcher on development issues, works with the Inclusive Media for Change project based at the Centre for Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.

  • Satrajit Choudhury

    Shambhuji, you took a great initiative. This politics of food / vegetarian fundamentalism needs to be challenged.

    • John Appletten Rich

      what about beef ban….just because you dont eat beef, doesnt mean we cant eat it…we have been eating beef for centuries..we cant stop eating it, and will continute to carry tiffins with beef on it…

      • Satrajit Choudhury

        Not sure why you are posting this comment to my reply. I fully support your choice of carrying tiffin with beef in it. Please carry an extra box for me as well, and tell me which station I can meet you in 😛

  • Bored_analyst

    Really?? This is sensibility? There are rules which need to be followed and not to be tampered with or changed according to what the CISF personnel feel.

  • Raj

    In India a vast majority of people are non-vegetarians ,,, carrying does not means opening…

  • Debasish Ray Chawdhuri

    In India, the majority are vegetarian, which is hard for a person like you to understand, but its true.

    • Curious onlooker

      Hey Debashish, please provide some references for this “truth” of yours.A 2006 State of the Nation survey conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) for Hindu-CNN-IBN reinforces the ASI report that the overwhelming majority is non-vegetarian. It revealed that only 31 per cent of Indians are vegetarians.

    • Prince Mathur

      Hey guys, this was not originally a discussion on vegetarians vs non vegetarians. Who cares majority of the population eats non veg or not. Those are just facts, which belongs in the records. Btw I’m a vegetarian and I respect non-vegetarians and their ideology. Because they are right from their perspective and I’m on mine. The thing is there are specific places for doing specific things. If one wants to eat, he should go to a restaurant or an open area, at your home etc. But if one is travelling in a public transport vehicle its common manners that you don’t eat any kind of food in there. Though there’s no harm if you are just carrying it with a good packing. But I guess the guards were not allowing that guy because as we all know that not every person who travels in a metro is educated enough to not do that. Exceptions are always there. Who knows that, those CISF’s people might’ve got a complaint about someone eating non veg in the metro, that’s why they were taking action against it. Though they should have a good sense of judgement for that to work smoothly.

    • Prince Mathur

      Hey guys, this was not originally a discussion on vegetarians vs non vegetarians. Who cares majority of the population eats non veg or not. Those are just facts, which belongs in the records. Btw I’m a vegetarian and I respect non-vegetarians and their ideology. Because they are right from their perspective and I’m on mine. The thing is there are specific places for doing specific things. If one wants to eat, he should go to a restaurant or an open area, at your home etc. But if one is travelling in a public transport vehicle its common manners that you don’t eat any kind of food in there. Though there’s no harm if you are just carrying it with a good packing. But I guess the guards were not allowing that guy because as we all know that not every person who travels in a metro is educated enough to not do that. Exceptions are always there. Who knows that, those CISF’s people might’ve got a complaint about someone eating non veg in the metro, that’s why they were taking action against it. Though they should have a good sense of judgement for that to work smoothly.

      • Lalhmingliana Fanai

        Frying egg in a metro, as he was carrying raw eggs.

    • bk

      only 31 per cent of Indians are vegetarians

  • Bholi Punjabban

    Gaurav bhaisahab you’re acting like you own the metro. If I’m chopping a live chicken in a metro, definitely I must be kicked out. But if I’m carrying a McChicken Maharaja burger it in a packed bag (anyways, eating in the metro is not allowed) just for my roomies, what problem does it pose to you? Why am I not allowed to sit in the metro?

  • Akimlo

    As a non-vegetarian, I can’t stand the ‘curry smell’ that ‘shaka hari’ (veg) North Indians are famous around the world for. But we are yet to see metros in cities like New York or Manila banning Indians for offending people with their smell.

    • Arvind Katju

      Eating is prohibited in all subways / metros / BRTs / Buses / transit system in the world. That includes raw or cooked, vegetarian or nonvegetarian, organic or synthetic, solid or liquid foods. (You are regardless of your intake of any of the aforementioned preparations, allowed to pass gas discretely so as no one knows that it is you who altered the olfactionary ambiance of the pristine coach.). Please be civic. Don’t eat in the subway car. Pack your reasonable amount of food in secure portable container. Don’t act in a way that you would not appreciate from your fellow travellers. Finally, as we Indians are likely to overstep any social and civic barrier, don’t haul the kitchen, the kitchen sink and the kitchen caboodle all along, thinking that it is merely the RailGadi version of PatparGanj DTC. Asha hai apki yatra sukhad rahegi. Agla station Sachet (As in Alert!). Dhanyavaad.

  • archit

    I welcome this from bottom of my heart. Really great steps by authority. Good food brings good thoughts. and good thoughts transform into good act which leads to good society and good nation and then the world.

    • Indian

      What make u decide what is good and what is bad…..i live in India and the constitution gave me right to eat and wear ……and if anyone try to stop me for that , is killing constitution……so respect indians…..

      • archit

        Killing Constitution is still better than killing animals. Who give you right to kill those animals with feelings and more trustworthy then human but unfortunately less power then human…

        • Proshonjit Mitra

          Ever heard about the word “Food Chain” or did you skip that portion in school? Humans are made to be omnivores. Who gave you the right to PLAY god and decree that my food is the one with feelings and the rest are not? Plants may have feelings too. Just because they can’t move and express themselves, YOU should eat it? How terribly hypocritical of you.

  • Vidushi Solanki

    aur karo BJP ko vote..ye to hona hi tha. Jab tak pura hindustan vegetarian nahi ban jata inhe chain nahi aaeyga.

  • SuchindranathAiyer

    Not allowing Non Vegetarian food on Delhi Metro? This is really weird! But many decades ago I used to see Police deliberately harassing senior military officers in uniform travelling at the airport. This might be typical abuse of power by the functionaries on the spot typical of Indian Governance where every body from a Supreme Court Judge to a Peon has discretion and powers to abuse without any accountability and revels in doing so as they have risen in an India from which culture, etiquette, respect for law, erudition, competence, integrity and respect for fellow human beings has been systematically eradicated.

  • C Vasi

    The question is not about vegetarianism or non-vegetarianism.
    You may carry any of this food while travelling.
    But you must be well-mannered that you don’t open the tiffin-carrier inside the closed, air-conditioned compartment and proceed to partake of the contents, whatever they are.
    Apart from the aroma (or odour) that wafts across and tickles the taste buds (or assails the nostrils) of fellow-passengers, there is also the danger of some spillover spoiling the ambience.
    In Madras that is Chennai too there was this news of food aboard coaches after Metro was inaugurated but I don’t know what the present rule is.

  • C Vasi

    English websitelae Hindilae ezhudhardhai eppadi anumathikkeeringa? Appo naan thamizhle ezhudhvaen.
    Englpeeslae padichchaa Englislae karuththu therivikkanum.
    Hindithaan theriyumnaa anga poi padichchu ezhudhattumae. Yaar vendaannu solluvaanga?

  • Nandini

    Appreciate your take on this. Two years back I faced similar restrictions and not allowed to board for carrying properly packed raw non-veg items at INA metro station.

  • prashant

    CISF officials have done right thing by stopping the man carrying eggs. If the eggs gets broken the person WD throw the egg in the metro and will move on creating lot of troubles to the Fellow passengers. The writer wd not come up to clean up the floor where raw eggs r broken. After all metro is not to carry Egg, Hen, Goat &Donkey which writer is arguing for it.

    • dee

      brilliant – in that case one should also not be allowed to carry pens, what if the pens break and leak everywhere? or what if you are travelling with a child and he/she throws up everywhere? We’re very good at coming up with what-ifs but the reasonability and most importantly legality (not your personal opinion) of carrying these items is the question here.

      The Delhi metro has been setup for the Delhi public to have a convenient and simple mode of transport. If they need to use this mode to transport food for their family and are legally allowed to do so, what gives you the right to intervene and tell them to stop?

      As for Donkeys not being allowed I must agree. Please stay off the metro.

      • Anil

        That was too good !!

    • ashokbhagat

      CISF should have stopped you from boarding. If you board, you will talk nonsense and cause headache to fellow passangers

  • Lakshmi Swami

    Shambhu , Upload the RTI query answer to a public document sharing cloud ; so that Metro-riders can carry it along with them.

    Stupidity needs to be countered with the heaviest form of massive non vegetarian dish carrying .

    Carry beef, egg, chicken , pork and mutton in such large numbers that CISF will beg for forgiveness that they ventured where no man or woman is allowed to intervene : the diet and food of an individual is a sacrosanct part of our fundamental rights.

    CISF or vegetarians should stop acting like silly food fundamentalists. Delhi is not Haryana or Maharashtra : if this is indeed being done by CISF mischievously , DMRC needs to come down heavily on such bad apples in CISF.

    And then these chaps wonder why they get called “thulla” and alike. Stick to checking for explosives , shall they CISF ?

    Will take some beef through the Metro lines over the weekend as a test case scenario to see how it is in major stations like Rajiv Chowk and Central Secretariat.

  • Lakshmi Swami

    60% of Indians are non-vegetarians So stop spreading the myth that India is a vegan country . Indians love their chicken, beef, mutton ,pork and eggs ; and merely by wishes of some vegetarians ;India ain’t turning majoritarian vegetarian. http://www.thehindu. com/opinion/blogs/blog-datadelve/article6195921.ece

  • archit

    If you read ayurveda you will know technical argument against non-veg food. Feeling very sad that your name is krishna and you are writing this.

    Let me know what you mean by religious pillars? I know about hinduism and never seen any hindu religious guru or god doing favor of it, and if it is we also need to understand the context without generalizing it.

    • dee

      and if you’re a nutritionist you will know the technical arguments for non-vegetarian food. If you wish to stay vegetarian, vegan, whatever you are completely free to do so. Why do you need to shove your agenda down everyone else’s throat? Again. the “authorities” are not taking this step, a few rogue/misinformed/equally biased as you are CISF officers are – they are not legally allowed to stop anyone from taking a reasonable amount of food (vegetarian or otherwise). So really you are simply condoning that a few people get to decide the law and take any matter they wish into their own hands. Good job.

    • Krishnasai Pinisetty

      Dear archit,
      There is a fair probablity that even my namesake krishna who was a yadhava wasnt a vegetarian.

      And please show me which ayurvedic texts States that non vegetarianism is evil..please Dont use vedas ‘ name to win an argument. If you have proof please show me, I would be grateful to you if you are educating me.
      Pillars I meant the people who are attributed to be the founders or gods or so on.

      I have also seenseen one of your argument where you mentioned that killing animals is worse than constitution. Please man Dont event mention ayurveda when you need to brush up ur civics. FYI even plants have feelings.

      Regarding gods and hinduism . dude if clearly understand Hinduism you would know that this way of life states that know matter how pray, whom you believe and even if you Dont believe in god yet you could attain moksha through, karma and dharma. And definitely eat whatever you eat without torturing it for sadistic pleasure.
      Please read about halal.

      Please Dont judge.. Without knowing the facts and definitely without having the vision to see the bigger picture.

  • archit

    People are justifying killing of animals, out of my understanding ….
    Kalyug he yug yug ka kam to karega hi…
    Jai shri krishna

  • Prince Mathur

    Hey guys, Originally this wasn’t a debate against vegetarians and non-vegetarians. And btw who cares majority of the population are vegan or not. What i

  • Sujad Syed

    An Us V Them dangerous situation in every aspect of our living is being engineered sinisterly. Are we heading for a civil war?

  • GopalB

    Metro is for safe and hassle free travel and not a dining car !In crowded metro poorly packed raw meat and fish sold by retailers is a cause for concern and matter of public health and safety. Thank CISF for keeping our travel in Metro safe and appreciate that during rush hours how hard it is to screen !

  • Chandrika Sarkar

    Please! The question is of sensibility, civic sense and not veg/non-veg. Its common sense that in a warm country like ours and also in a crowded place its advisable to carry raw/cooked non-veg items in proper packs. Banning it is no option. In close confines both veg and non- veg would smell equally strongly so what should be banned is eating on board. BTW, this whole fanatic idea of being a vegetarian leads to good thinking is ridiculous. All those dhongi babas, pseudo-saints, bajrang dal, Sriram Sene people are all veggies right?

  • bk

    The problem unfortunately is … that people like you claim to be educated, but are actually quite ignorant about our country. And people like you also therefore tend to be viraat hindus, elite in your upbringing and action, but totally blind to the realities of real india. Only 31 per cent of Indians are vegetarians. That is a hard fact. Chew on it like you would a leg of mutton.

  • Mayank Kumar Saxena

    thank god, some one made a right point !

  • Lalhmingliana Fanai

    It is all about Non Veg thin as the writer has said rightly “One of them responded that if I were carrying such items, then I should come out through the exit gate”

  • Oscar Varghese

    Actually I don’t think you’re allowed to consume any food in the metro. So this argument is invalid.

  • ashokbhagat

    Lot of vegetables stink a lot, more than dead fish.