Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Commentary - Cow mania in India reaches murderous proportions

The last few days India has been busy debating diet. Which is okay if people are only debating! But now people are getting killed over ‘alleged’ consumption of beef. Incidents are being concocted in sensitive parts of the country to trigger an atmosphere of animosity, suspicion and violence. Yes, the reference here is to an incident in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh when a Muslim family was falsely accused of storing beef in the house and the head of the family was lynched by a mob of local people – except that not all the people were local. It turns out that the violent threats to the Muslim family were made from a temple loudspeaker by a priest who is absconding but who seems to have been involved in other similar incidents in the area. So the question is - are the so-called fringe groups from the Hindutva fold getting more active and organized these days.

It is indeed true that ever since the NDA government came to power last year, the fringe voices and groups have felt empowered and have kept the communal pot boiling. Despite the strong opposition from the civil society, the political parties have failed to respond to take matters head on. Prime Minister Modi for instance has made no comment on the beef murder. The mealy-mouthed UP government on its part has failed to take its investigation far enough.

We face three possibilities here – first, the fringe groups are beyond the control of the government or the RSS, the government does not find it important to respond to the incidents, and third that these groups are blessed and actively encouraged by the BJP-RSS – all of them really amount to the same. Beef is being used as a weapon to mow down basic democratic rights. 

Among all the voices opposing such anti-democratic moves, the one that strikes as the boldest and the most unambiguous is a piece provocatively titled ‘A beef-eating Hindu demands his rights’ by Swminathan Anklesari Aiyar of the Swaminomics fame. His statement carries a highly personal tone but a reader concerned with the fate of democracy in India will appreciate its far-reaching implications and echoes.

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