By Henna Vaiphei
The constitution of India upholds the cultural and religious rights of all its citizens equally without showing any bias with a vision of attaining equal growth in all aspects of life. It neither empowered nor authorised the larger communities to enforce their traditional ethics and religion against the interests of the ethnic minorities. If the Centre or State fails to discharge its responsibility, citizens should not be asked to suffer. Article 15 of the Constitution is more specific instance of the right to equality which prohibits an individual being subjected to discrimination in matters of rights, privileges and immunities.
Against the constitutional provision, with the BJP regaining power at the centre, once again banning or eating beef turned out to be a boiling issue all over India which subjected many innocent citizens suffering untold misery causing regrettable lost of life to many unnecessarily. Many presumed banning or eating beef is an issue between the Hindus and the Muslims minority, indeed it is a common issue which affected all ethnic communities residing in India. However the issue is worsening in parts of Maharashtra, Haryana, Jammu &Kashmir and Delhi etc where both the Hindus and Muslims are living together in large number. But banning beef or slaughtering cow is not viable in the north-eastern region as most of the states are dominated by tribals who had been practising beef eating culture since time immemorial.
Some Hindu fundamentalists commented, protecting cow is relevant to the ethic of non-violence forgetting their act of violence to other animals butchering for food. Buddhism which is known to be the messenger of non-violence restricted only its followers to abstain from any form of violence even against the smallest insects as they can feel pain and suffer like human being, but never encourage banning or prohibiting meat for those who consumed it. Even, Gandhi, the father of the nation, who was known for his philosophy of non-violence world-wide did not forced his Hindu or Muslim brethren to stop eating meat in spite of his strict adherence to the ethic of non-violence.
Distinction in diet may be blamed the epicentre of the issue as majority Hindus is vegetarian, whereas the Muslim and Christian tribal minorities with some sections of the Hindus are non-vegetarian by birth or tradition. But all the Hindus in common avoid eating beef and show reverence to cow as mother with the exception of other animals butchering for diet. There are some sections in the society who eat only fowls, hen, goat etc. and still certain sections eat only fish and not other animals. Dog meat the most favourite meat of all animals by the tribals of the north-eastern region is extremely detested by the people of the mainland India, even feel vomiting by seeing it. This justified that food habit is exclusively accredited to the decision of the individual concerned and no one has the right to dictate or interfere in this regard.
The building of misconceptions has also extended to the dietary habits of the ‘Muslim’ community. The profession of a section of Muslims, who are Kasais (butchers), those in the trade of beef selling, has been brought in to add to the ‘Hate other’, ‘social common sense’ aspect of the Indian culture in particular. The result being that it is perceived, at the broader layers of the society, as beef eating being compulsory for Muslims. The notion which has been popularised is that the Cow is Holy for Hindus: Muslims kill her! With a strong view that Muslim invaders brought beef eating into India. These misconceptions have by now; become a part of the ‘social common sense’ of a large number of people in the Indian society. In fact it is BJP members who have been at the centre of accusations ranging from fanning communal tensions in the area, having links to the main suspects in the attack and making inflammatory comments in the aftermath of the killing.
Many alleged BJP and its alliance parties is the mentor of this issue as many BJP and RSS Hindu fundamentalist leaders are openly campaigning for banning slaughtering cow nationwide. Since the installation Mr Modi’s government, the rhetoric surrounding protection of cows has stepped up. A BJP coalition government in Maharashtra state imposed a total beef ban earlier this year. And Mr Rashid was recently assaulted in the state assembly after he allegedly hosted a beef party in Srinagar. Adding more fuel to the fire, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Sakshi Maharaj said that they are ready to kill in order to protect cows from slaughter. He also backed Haryana Chief Minister Manoharlal Khattar’s controversial “Muslims should quit eating beef” statement, saying there was nothing wrong in it. Further, “We won’t remain silent if somebody tries to kill our mother,” said the BJP hardcore Sakshi Maharaj in comments broadcast on the CNN-IBN news channel. “We are ready to kill and get killed,” he said.
Although the home ministry expressed concern over the incident and the President has called for tolerance and plurality to be upheld, Mr Modi has maintained a conspicuous silence over the killing. But, “The blame for this has to fall entirely on Modi. Those who spread this poison enjoy his patronage,” wrote Pratap Bhanu Mehta, who heads the influential Centre for Policy Research, in The Indian Express newspaper.
The cited points revealed the facts that Mr Modi, honourable Prime Minister of India and his alliance partners with some Hindu hard cores deliberately voiced the issue of banning slaughtering cow or eating beef against the cultural and fundamental rights of the citizens for gaining more political power in various states. Instead of addressing the plight of the minorities, they are intensifying the issue from bad to worse by making inflammatory comments, infuriating the mobs leading to more tension between the Hindus and minority Muslims in parts of the mainland of India. The rumours or news of conflict or dispute in several places of the main land India over this issue banning beef is continuously explored in the national papers and Television and the issue still remained unabated. Who has to address the plight of the people over this issue? Or is it the policy of BJP government to make India one nation, one religion, one culture and one tradition in favour of the Hindu community, extremely against the constitution?
Mr Modi and his alliance partners with some Hindu hard-cores should know that there is no constitutional provision for rearing cow in such manners as to be revered cow as god and worship or slaughter for dietary, but it remains purely at the decision of the owners to be utilized to meet the needs purposefully. Also, they should keep in mind that India is a land of multi-ethnicities with diverse religious, cultural, traditional and identity backgrounds with a number of restrictions not to be done. For the Hindus culture cow may be a sacred animal to be worship, but beef may be a good diet component food items for the Muslim and other tribal minorities for over centuries in India. It is against the constitution and law of the land to impose ban on such food item much preferred by the people who consumed it without proper justification. Specifically, Mr Modi should always remember, the life of man is more valuable than cow and the life of man can never be made in exchange with the life of cow. Visiting foreign nations in rotation has no meaning while many citizens died by committing suicide due to job problem or fear of starvation death and banning food item. BJP should be very careful from any type of sentimental issue which can nurture misunderstanding, conflict or dispute among the different ethnic communities of India or they will fall in their own trap before fulfilling half of their dreams in power as in the past India shining Atal Bihari Vajpayee government ended. Let every rational citizen learn from Gandhi statement “where there is love there is life” so that unity in diversity, dream of the constitution framers can be attained successfully.