31 May 2020 04:34 AM




NEW DELHI: Secular India, horrified and aghast over the brutal murder of Mohammad Akhlaq on trumped up charges of eating beef, has come out strongly against this violent expression of intolerance. An aggressive BJP however, remains steadfast in its support for the crime even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi maintains a calculated silence.

Akhlaq’s grieving family travelled to Lucknow to meet Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav--who had not bothered to visit them--- worrying why the perpetrators of the crime had not been arrested as yet. Muzaffarnagar violence accused Sangeet Som visited Dadri to say,”"Nobody's religious sentiments should be hurt. BJP does not want riots. But those who cause this kind of tension should know that people will not remain quiet,” Dadri has confirmed a pattern set in Muzaffarnagar (see below).

Tweets and posts against the crime are flooding the social media, the international media has written extensively on the crime, and domestically while the media role needs to be examined there are individuals and political parties who have categorically challenged the campaign being run by the Hindutva forces using beef as a pretext.

The counter has taken the form of an assertion by prominent persons stating there is nothing wrong in eating beef. Retired Justice Markanday Katju agitated a section of students in Banaras Hindu University where he said that the cow was just another animal “which cannot be anyone’s mother”.

“Cow is just an animal and an animal cannot be anyone’s mother, if I like to eat beef then what’s harm in it, even people worldwide consume beef, if I like to too eat then who can stop me…” he said “Are those people across the world who eat beef bad and only we (in the country) who don’t eat are saints and seers, whats harm in it when people eat beef, I too eat and will even continue to eat further…” he said condemning the attack on Akhlaq in strong words.

Author Shobha De tweeted, “I just ate beef. Come and murder me.”

And Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad Yadav, taking a calculated risk in the midst of the frenetic Bihar polls, hit out with, “poor people eat meat to beat their hunger… Those who go outside (the country) eat beef. Even Hindus eat beef. There is no difference between beef and goat meat… A Muslim was falsely accused in Dadri.”

The pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak up is mounting with an online petition gathering signatures currently. The BJP remains on the aggressive, with the Dadri incident following the new pattern set into motion with the Muzaffarnagar violence in western Uttar Pradesh last year during the Lok Sabha elections.

1. The Village has replaced the town for those perpetrating communal violence. The communal amity that held through the worst years in the past in villages is now being systematically fractured. Panchayats and Mahapanchayats are being used as the vehicle to spread hate, and to mobilise mobs;

2. Organisations with different names mushroom overnight, lead the campaign through posters and rumours, and disappear as suddenly as they have appeared after the violence;

3. The anonymity of a communal attack has now been replaced with the familiarity of the village. The mobs that attacked in towns have been replaced by the villagers, known to the victims, and hence adding to the terror. “How can we live here now, those who attacked us are people we grew up with, we know them, how can we be safe”, is the refrain leading Muslims to leave their villages;

4. The violence is intended to ensure large scale displacement of the minorities;

5. The violence is highly calibrated. The techie in Pune, the villager in Dadri---fear generated by these hate crimes has been tremendous as was the intention clearly;

6. And finally, the one point that needs to be emphasised. The BJP leaders along with those of the front organisations are now aggressive and open about the attacks. In Muzaffarnagar the local BJP leaders exhorted the mahapanchayats to kill those who were abducting their girls in the midst of a rumour campaign of Hindu girls being abducted by Muslim youth; in Dadri the local BJP leaders who justified the attack are threatening to use the mahapanchayat to ensure the release of the few persons arrested for the crime.

Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma who went to the spot, instead of commiserating said that the attack should be considered an “accident without giving any communal colour to it.”

BJP Member of Parliament Tarun Vijay tweeted the age old argument of the party, designed to appeal to the majoritarian sentiment, saying “why responsibility to keep peace and maintain calm is put on the Hindus alone.”

And as The Citizen had reported the local BJP leaders sought to justify the attack as a reflection of “hurt Hindu sentiments” ; of the mob comprising just “innocent children”; of Akhaq dying not because of being hit mercilessly with bricks but of ‘shock’ because someone told him that his son was dead. Meanwhile Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains silent, adding the silence to the cacophony of BJP arguments.