A fifty year old Muslim man was beaten to death, and critically injured his 22 year old son by a mob of about 100 people alleging that the family ate beef in the house, in a bizarre incident near the capital city of India, New Delhi. The Indian Express reported that the incident took place on Monday night at around 10 PM in Dadri village, North Western Uttar Pradesh (UP), around 45 km from New Delhi.
The Indian Express reported:
According to Sajida, Akhlaq’s 18-year-old daughter who was in the house when the attack took place, “a group of more than 100 people from the village” reached the house that night.
“They accused us of keeping cow meat, broke down our doors and started beating my father and brother. My father was dragged outside the house and beaten with bricks. We came to know later that an announcement had been made from the temple about us eating beef,” said Sajida.
Police said they have sent samples of meat taken from Akhlaq’s home “to the forensics department for examination”. Akhlaq’s daughter, Sajida, said the family had “mutton in the fridge” and not beef.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Gautam Buddh Nagar, Kiran S, said “preliminary investigations revealed that an announcement was made from the temple” about the family consuming beef.
“The priest was picked for questioning as we need to investigate the involvement of others in the case,” said Kiran.
According to the SSP, a case of rioting and murder has been registered against 10 people. “Six of them have been arrested — Rupendra, Vivek, Sri Om, Sandeep, Saurav and Gaurav — all residents of Bisara village,” the police officer said.
“We have been told that a group of people entered the temple and used a microphone to make the announcement. However, investigations are still underway. We do not know if any of the accused are associated with the temple. We have collected meat samples from Akhlaq’s house and sent it to the forensics department for examination,” said Kiran.
Mohammad Akhlaq is a farm worker and his son,Danish, is a welder who works for the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) facility in the area. Danish was admitted to a government hospital where doctors described his condition as “critical”.
However, as news of the arrests spread, residents from Bisara and neighbouring villages held demonstrations and clashed with police near the NTPC facility, damaging vehicles, including a police van, and burning a motorcycle.
When police resorted to firing, Rahul Yadav, who works as a welder at NTPC, received a bullet injury near his abdomen.
The action from the part of the police was even more bizarre and murky when they sent the meat captured from the dead man’s house for forensic examination. It was like putting the blame on the victims, a usual fascist strategy. Sajida, the dead man’s daughter says that the meat the police took away frome their refrigerator was mutton. “If the results prove that it was not beef, will they bring back my dead father?” She asks.
Eating beef has become a politically contentious issue after the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in India. Recently, the state of Maharashtra enacted a law making possessing and eating beef a criminal act. Rajasthan and Haryana also enacted laws eating beef criminal. Latest in the line of beef ban was the predominantly Muslim inhabited Jammu and Kashmir state where the ban was imposed by a court order citing an obscure penal code enacted in 1819. Beef is banned in most other BJP ruling states of India.
India a multi religious, multi cultural and multi linguistic state has different food habits. About 80 % of the Indian population, comprising of Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs, Muslims and Christians etc eat beef.
It is ironic that India is the largest exporter of beef in the world! According to data released by U.S. Department of Agriculture India exported 2.4 million tonnes of beef and veal in FY2015, compared to 2 million tonnes by Brazil and 1.5 million by Australia. India accounts for 23.5 per cent of global beef exports. This is up from a 20.8 per cent share last year.
The ruling BJP is an off shoot of Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS), a self proclaimed cultural organization with fascist roots. The ideology of RSS is ‘Hindutva’ which champions caste hierarchy and it is harboring an ambition to turn India into a theocratic ‘Hindu Rashtra’.
On 13 September, RSS frontal outfit Rashtriya Muslim Manch organised an ‘All India Cow Protection Conclave’ in Firozpur in Haryana’s muslim majority Mewat region. In the meeting senior RSS leader and head of the Manch Indresh Kumar said “Muslims should refrain from eating beef for the sake of communal harmony. All people opposing a ban on cow-slaughter are satanic, fundamentalists and pseudo-secular”.
Earlier this year, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had asked all those who want to eat beef can “go to Pakistan”.
In another instance, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, another offshoot of RSS, leader Sadhvi Prachi had linked the tragic earthquake of Nepal and beef eating and said that the quake was caused by the sin of beef eating.
It can be clearly seen that mob frenzy was being whipped up against all those who eat beef by the Hindutva forces, while profiting profusely from the huge export of beef. Now, that the mob fury has taken the life of an innocent person, it is time for India to introspect and take corrective actions.
Anand Teltumbde of Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights, Mumbai states that beef ban is unconstitutional. According to him beef ban is imposed by “Article 48 of the Indian Constitution, but this Directive Principle of State Policy includes only those bovines presently or potentially capable of yielding milk or doing work as draught cattle, and does not extend to cattle which may have been milch or draught cattle but have since ceased to be so.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who tweets about everything under the sun, has so far kept mum on the right of the food habit of vast majority of Indians. Now a human life has been lost, it is time for him to break the silence.