Addressing a rally in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, 26 March, BJP president Amit Shah attacked the Congress and the mahagatbandhan and said the "days of feeding biryani to terrorists are over."
But did the UPA government ever actually serve biryani to terrorists?
Source of The Claim
The origin of this statement goes back to August 2009, when news agency PTI carried a report saying that the prime accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks case Mohammed Ajmal Kasab had thrown a tantrum in prison and demanded mutton biryani. The report was carried by many news organisations, among them India Today.
This report was followed up by many more on Kasab's tantrums and eating habits, with some stating that the terrorist also demanded basmati rice and spicy food in prison.
This is how biryani came to be associated with terrorists in public discourse, with politicians making the reference over the years. Kasab was executed in November 2012, four years after the November 2008 attack, but the connection between biryani and terrorists lived on.
BJP Leaders Attack Opposition
Amit Shah made this reference while speaking at a rally in Moradabad. Approximately at 17:55 in the below video, Shah makes this statement.
“The country is going into elections. Can anyone, apart from Modiji, give terrorists a strong fitting reply? Can anyone give a strong reply to Pakistan, apart from Modiji? The country needs a prime minister who will strike fear into the hearts of enemies,” he said.
He then went on to bring up the reference to biryani. “For 30 years, they have been feeding them biryani. But I have no regrets in saying that the time for feeding biryani to terrorists is over, this is Narendra Modi’s time,” he said.
Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath has on multiple occasions brought up the reference. On Tuesday, 26 March, Adityanath said in Gorakhpur that while the Congress was "feeding biryani to terrorists, the Narendra Modi government was wiping them out", according to a report.
On 24 March, at a rally in Saharanpur, he made the same reference, saying that Congress had given biryani to terrorists, while the Modi government had fed them bullets and bombs.
“During Opposition’s time, terrorists would be fed biryani. We feed terrorists bullets and bombs,” he said, reported ANI.
In November 2018, during an election rally in Makrana, Rajasthan, he said that the "terrorists who were fed biryani by the Congress are now being gunned down by the BJP government", according to this The Times of India report.
In August 2012, BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi referenced biryani with regard to Kasab after the verdict. "Those who wage war against the country and kill innocents deserve no mercy. Kasab should be hanged without any delay enough of biryani for him," he said, according to this report.
A Deliberately Propagated Falsehood
But did Kasab in fact, demand mutton biryani in prison?
In March 2015, the public prosecutor in the case, Ujjwal Nikam told reporters that Kasab had never demanded biryani and that he had concocted the lie and spread it to stop an "emotional wave" which was being created in favour of Kasab.
According to the report, Nikam said: "This kind of emotional wave and atmosphere was needed to [be] stopped. So, after that, I gave a statement to the media saying Kasab has demanded mutton biryani in the jail."
Nikam said that he thought of this idea after he noticed that the media was "minutely observing [Kasab's] body language" and had even reported that the terrorist had tears in his eyes in court on Rakshabandhan. Nikam added that some even went on to question whether he was a a terrorist or not.
He clarified that the statement that he had given to the media was completely concocted and the truth was that "Kasab neither asked for biryani nor it was served.”
Moreover, the revelation that the biryani story was a lie led to a furore over a public prosecutor creating a false narrative and what that implied for the case, which had by that time long been disposed off.
The falsehood by Nikam had led to public demands for a quick trial for Kasab. According to The Indian Express, “why feed them biryani” became a popular refrain on social media and elsewhere.
After the revelation, Nikam was also asked for a clarification by the Maharashtra government, reported NDTV.
This entire episode was widely reported by many media houses and a simple Google search of Kasab + biriyani throws up results that show clearly that this was a lie, fabricated by Nikam for a purpose.
However, despite the statement clearly being a falsehood propagated by Nikam, BJP leaders continue to use this narrative to attack the Opposition and mainly, the Congress.
(With inputs from NDTV, The Indian Express, The Times of India, DNA and Scroll.in.)
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