June 12, 2016

Dadri: Hate Politics Over “Beef”

THAT the BJP will indulge in “beef politics” to create communal polarisation in Uttar Pradesh has been made amply clear in recent days. Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched in his house in Bisara village in Dadri in September last year on the false charge that he had kept beef and consumed it in his house. Eighteen persons, including some BJP men, were arrested and are now facing trial for the murder of Akhlaq. Last week, a report of a forensic lab in Mathura that the sample of meat recovered from a public place away from Akhlaq’s house was meat belonging to the “cow or its progeny” has led to an orchestrated effort by the leaders of the BJP, including ministers, to divert the issue away from the killing of Akhlaq. The circumstances in which the Mathura lab report was made public is itself dubious, considering the fact that a preliminary report from the doctor at Dadri’s government veterinary hospital had found that the meat was of the “goat progeny”. The Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav, has also questioned the authenticity of the report. The sample tested by the Mathura lab itself was not from the refrigerator in Akhlaq’s house but was found outside. Moreover, there is no law which makes possession of beef illegal in Uttar Pradesh. The Mathura lab report has been seized upon by the BJP to launch a concerted campaign that a cow was slaughtered and the beef was distributed among the Muslims in Bisara village. Yogi Adityanath, the BJP MP and rabid Hindu fanatic has demanded registration of a case of cow slaughter against Akhlaq’s family and the release of innocent Hindus arrested for the killing of Akhlaq. The union minister for culture, Mahesh Sharma, has criticised the Uttar Pradesh chief minister for questioning the veracity of the lab report. The union minister, Sanjeev Balyan, notorious for his role in the Muzaffarnagar riots, has demanded a probe to find out who all have consumed the meat of the cow that was allegedly slaughtered. A mahapanchayat was held in Bisara village on June 6, despite prohibitory orders having been imposed. In this meeting attended by local leaders of BJP and Shiv Sena, the demand was raised that within 20 days, cases be filed against the family members of Akhlaq, failing which the meeting declared that “public anger” cannot be restrained. The entire logic put forth in the meeting was that the “killers” of the alleged cow are the real criminals and not the “killers” of the killer of the cow. The BJP president, Amit Shah, has refused to condemn the provocative statement of Sanjeev Balyan. When asked about this, he has only stated that he must have expressed his views on the basis of the Mathura lab report. The BJP leadership is clearly out to make the Dadri “beef” matter an issue to create communal polarisation. The cynical attempt is being made keeping in mind that the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections are due early next year. It may be recalled that the BJP sought to use cow slaughter and beef in the Bihar assembly elections which was held just weeks after the Dadri incident. It is another matter that such a disruptive agenda found no response from the Bihar electorate. Such unscrupulous and divisive tactics, do not impact elections alone, they inject communal poison in society with devastating consequences. It produces such heinous crimes such as the lynching and hanging of the two Muslim cattle traders in Latehar, in Jharkhand, which included a thirteen year old boy. The Modi government at the centre will eventually suffer the consequences of the hate speech and incitement of communal passions by its ministers and the ruling party leadership. Elections will come and go, but the people will judge the BJP for the manner in which it has used governmental power to divide the people, endanger lives and disrupt peace and harmony. (June 8, 2016)