Sangh Parivar Tries to Create “Food Communalism”
A A Rahim
THE Kerala state committee of the Democratic Youth Federation of India has conducted a campaign named “Food Street” from November 24 exposing the Sangh Parivar’s hate propaganda against Halal hotels. The Halal hate campaign is intended to create anti-Muslim feelings in society. RSS has started the hate campaign in social media with leaders like K Surendran, president of Kerala Bharatiya Janata Party, in the lead. Throughout the campaign they attempted to create a misconception regarding the term Halal which is an Arabic word related to the beliefs of Muslims that in literal translation means permissible to eat.
Halal is an Arabic term which prescribes the food that is permissible to eat for Muslims. As per the Islamic faith, it is believed that the Halal food is prepared by the means and methods accepted by Islam. Similar to Halal, Haram is a part of the Muslim faith that describes things that are prohibited to be consumed by their faith such as pork, alcohol, etc. All other meats are allowed but must be prepared in the manner prescribed by Islamic beliefs and practices; animals for consumption are offered prayers in the name of God before butchering.
RIGHT TO FOOD IS A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT
In Saeed Ahmed v State of UP (Misc. Bench No. 6871 of 2017), the Allahabad High Court has pointed out that the right to the choice of food falls within the fundamental right to have food. This observation was made by the court while granting relief to the petitioner, whose application for renewal of license for selling goat meat was not renewed by the municipality. Criticising the lack of response to the petitioner’s application, the court noted that the state’s approach to cattle slaughter had the effect of prohibition on the trade of the petitioner and was in violation of his fundamental rights under Article 19 (g) to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business and Article 21 which guarantees protection of life and personal liberty under the Constitution of India. This decision is significant, given the attempt to abolish slaughter-houses by the Uttar Pradesh state government and the ‘ban on beef’ imposed by several state governments. Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Sanjai Harkauli said, “Providing an immediate check on unlawful activity should simultaneous be with facilitating to carry on lawful activity, particularly that relating to food, food habits and vending thereof that is undisputedly connected with the right to life and livelihood”.
India, in its vast diversity, is currently facing threats to its pluralism. India as a pioneer in establishing a constitutional framework that recognises group-differentiated rights, is now challenged by forces that undermine its fragile political equilibrium. In some ways, the granting of group-differentiated rights by the Indian Constitution in 1950 foreshadowed diversity. Despite a variety of group rights, such as quotas for dalit and tribal groups and self-government rights for linguistic groups, India's constitutional framework still has a normative deficiency when it comes to the protection of minority cultures. RSS has never accepted the pluralism of our country and dreams for a new India on the principle of “One rashtra, one language and one culture”, where a Hindutva republic may be established. The cultural diversity is the essential part of the secular and democratic India. The Constitution of India proclaimed and assured this pluralism, and the right to religion and personal liberty and privacy. RSS orchestrates the venomous hate propaganda across the nation and creates Islamophobia in our country. Sangh Parivar has been successful in dividing people in various parts of the country.
KERALA RESISTS SANGH PARIVAR AGENDA
Kerala made a big leap towards achieving communal harmony among its citizens unlike many other states in the country. It has a glorious legacy of communal harmony. The Kerala Renaissance with the contributions of Sree Narayana Guru, Mahatma Ayyankali, Vagbhadananda Gurudevan, Vakkom Moulavi, Mannath Padmanabhan and many others made the state a secular, progressive, and democratic society. Along with this movement, farmers struggles and national movement with the communist involvement made the state secular and progressive. Since the first elected government that was led by the Communist Party, it continued the legacy that led to the great Kerala Model. Unique among other states of India, Kerala could continue to value modernity through its Left led governments. Irrespective of caste and religion, the citizens of the state congregate to celebrate all festivals and cultural events that are a part of its rich heritage that respects the values and morals maintained by one another. In any house in kerala, irrespective of caste and creed, you can find the same breakfast and dinner.
The Sangh Parivar led propaganda is a continued threat to communal harmony. The Left movements in Kerala have been resisting these agendas of Sangh Parivar, continuously. The progressive and secular mindset of Kerala society that was derived by the renaissance movement and became strong with the Left movement is able to resist these divisive tactics. ‘Love jihad’, ‘narcotic jihad’, etc was propagated by the Hindutva groups in Kerala. The Halal controversy is a continuity of such hate campaigns. These events are not coincidental, but rather are part of the planned attempts of Sangh Parivar to attain supremacy and aim to generate Islamophobia in the society to create communal polarisation. It is an explicit political tool of the Sangh Parivar. RSS encourages non-Halal hotels in every district and exhorts Hindu individuals to patron only these restaurants. Whereas, the Muslim fundamental organisations like Jamiat e Islami and Popular Front of India advocate the names of restaurants run by Muslims.
In such a situation, the DYFI called for a campaign named ‘Food Street’. DYFI proclaimed that they will not allow the mixing of food and religion and that the right to choose food is within the personal liberty of a person. In every district headquarter, DYFI has conducted the programme Food Street and distributed versatile food items for the people. Everyone was able to choose their food from the counters which included Halal and non-Halal options. Several eminent personalities participated in the event and it has become a great success. Hindutva extremists and Muslim extremist groups were exposed amidst the society. Irrespective of religion, most of the Kerala citizens supported and encouraged the campaign. Consumption of Halal or non-Halal food is the choice of the person who consumes it. DYFI stands by the right to have the food of one’s choice. In order to showcase the same, DYFI had served both Halal and non-Halal foods (by including beef and pork) in almost all places subjected to its availability like in Kozhikode, Kannur, Ernakulam and other centres. These events have vexed both Hindutva and Muslim extremists across the state which in itself is the proof of the success of the campaign held by the DYFI.
The DYFI Kerala unit also conducted a campaign ‘Secular Youth Fest’ which promotes communal harmony and progressive thoughts among the society. This campaign also exposed the hate campaigns by Sangh Parivar such as ‘love jihad’ and ‘narcotic jihad’. DYFI has a strong and powerful legacy of fighting against communalism. The RSS continues to attack the secular mindset of Kerala. But the progressive and revolutionary youth of Kerala will not allow divisions to happen in its society. The youth movement of Kerala has lost hundreds of comrades in this battle. We salute the great martyrs who had sacrificed their lives for secularism. The DYFI will continue the struggle and protect the rights of minorities and work together for social inclusion.