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Why is Narendra Modi silent over Dadri killing?

Indian Premier Narendra Modi is under enormous national and international criticism for his silence on the Dadri brutality case. Last week, a Muslim farmer Mohammad Ikhlaq was dragged from his home in an Indian village Bisara, Dadri and beaten to death by an angry Hindu mob, after the rumors that his family had been eating beef and storing the meat in their home. Sajada, daughter of Ikhlaq told the news agencies that mob came in the night, smashed the door and dragged her father from bed, then beat him to death with bricks until the blocks crumbled in their hands. ‘My brother was also dragged to the courtyard downstairs and they used bricks to hit him on the head and chest.’ The 22-year-old is now in critical condition. “They also tried to molest me and hit my grandmother” When asked why, she said,‘they accused us of eating cow’s meat.’ This act of brutality immediately received huge attention on social, electronic and print media. No statement has yet been made by Mr. Modi. However, one of the Hindutva leader SadhviPrachi  made a contemptible comment saying that people who eat beef should face consequence similar to the one faced by victim Muhammad Ikhlaq.

Narendra Modi

The brutal killing of Muhammad Ikhlaq is not the first incident of its kind, India has been experiencing increasing incidents of violence against minorities since the electoral victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014. Hindu ultra-nationalist organizations during election campaign of Modi widely used the slogans,  ‘Modikomatdan, gaikojeevandan’  (Vote for Modi, give life to the cow) and BJP kasandesh, bachegigai, bachegadesh (BJP’s message, the cow will be saved, the country will be saved). Kamadhenu or “Mother Cow” is revered as sacred by many Hindus. Cow protection was also one of the key conditions laid down by Hindu right-wing organisations such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to back BJP’s Narendra Modi as their prime ministerial candidate.

Prolonged debates between secularists and Hindu nationalists, notably during the time of the Constituent Assembly, resulted in an ambiguous phrase that recommended the prohibition of cow slaughter in Article 48 of the Indian Constitution, but only at the level of the ‘Directive Principles’ — in other words, it was offered as guidance to the state governments of the Indian Union. In the past, Indian states where the BJP has held power, it has tried to toughen cow rights laws. In the southern state of Karnataka, for example, the party attempted to introduce legislation to ban cow slaughter completely and make it illegal to sell any kind of beef in the state. In the Gujarat state, of which Modi was chief minister since 2001, consumption of beef was banned, and cow slaughter can result in a seven year jail term. The Rajasthan state has taken cow protection a step further with its reported plans for India’s first “Ministry for Cows”. While Madhya Pradesh state has set up a cow sanctuary and a ban on cow slaughter took effect earlier this year. The BJP-led government launched a programme to buy cow urine to be used for various medicinal purposes when it was in power in Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. The BJP’s vowed to build ‘cow hostels’ in cities, ‘cow pension’ which will keep farmers from selling old animals to slaughterhouses and a ‘cow protection force’  which will be mobilised to rescue cows.

Narendra Modi

Some Hindu regard the cow as a holy animal and say her urine has divine healing properties. One must respect the sentiments of those who worship cow and regard her as their mother, however the issue of protection of holy cows appears to be more political then religious. A survey of ancient Hindu scriptures, especially the Vedas, shows that many Hindu gods such as Indra and Agni liked and consumed cow’s beef. In the Hindu scripture of Mahabharata there is a mention of a king named Rantideva who achieved great fame by distributing food grains and beef to Brahmins. Taittiriya Brahman categorically tells us: `Verily the cow is food’ (athoannam via gauh) and Yajnavalkya’s insistence on eating the tender (amsala) flesh of the cow is well known. Even later Brahminical texts provide the evidence for eating beef. Even Manusmriti did not prohibit the consumption of beef.

Retired history professor Dwijendra Narayan Jha, whose book “The Myth of the Holy Cow,” upset Hindus with his findings that beef eating wasn’t uncommon among Hindus prior to the arrival of Muslim rule, says there isn’t as clear a stance among Hindus on beef eating as right-wing groups insist. In his views,‘not all Hindus are averse to eating beef, Seventy-two communities in Kerala eat beef openly and regularly and they are Hindu.”

The BJP’s emphasis on the cow, an explicit symbol of Hindu piety, stokes differences between Hindus and beef-eating minorities.Not only Muslims and Christians, but also India’s Scheduled tribes and Scheduled castes – who account for 25 percent (5069607396) of the country’s population, are beef eaters.Dalit activists and other groups aren’t happy about the trend of cow protection. Some view this as ‘food fascism’.

Peter van der Veer has argued that Hindu revivalist movements, particularly the cow protection movement, also laid the foundation for Hindu nationalism in India. The Arya Samaj spearheaded the cow protection movement. Anti-minorities’ mobilisations thus use the accusations of cow slaughter, with Hindu reactions often leading to violence against other religious communities.  India’s 177 million Muslims in particular, who form a majority in the beef business, are targeted in the guise of cow protection and welfare. The incident like Bisara exhibits that liberal space in India is being strangulated by the practitioners of Hindu nationalism.

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