Maharashtra has indulged too much in meat ban politics and courts too are engaged in the same controversy. A stay on beef ban is a decision that should be taken by the state government; the Bombay High Court has also refused to stay the ban temporarily. The court was hearing a petition by various groups to relax the ban on beef for three days during the Muslim festival of Bakri Eid, which involves the sacrifice of calves and bulls and is to be held over the weekend. In March, the Maharashtra government had banned the slaughter of bulls and calves in the state, where cow slaughter was already illegal. It made possession, transportation and consumption of beef a punishable offence. The ban became a political issue after farmers — who were finding it hard to sell their old bullocks — and beef traders started protesting against it. The issue was taken up by Republican Party of India (A) — an ally of the ruling BJP — which contended that the government was doing an injustice to the minority community and the farmers.
The Muslim Rashtriya Manch — a wing of the BJP’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS – also launched a signature campaign demanding rehabilitation of those affected by the beef ban, especially the Qureshi community. But the state government has made it clear that there would be no going back on the law, though it would take steps to rehabilitate people whose livelihood has been hit. Last week, the Supreme Court refused to uphold a temporary ban on meat sale in Mumbai imposed by the state government on the occasion of a Jain festival. The court had said that “a ban cannot be forced down someone’s throat” and a “spirit of tolerance” was of paramount importance.
There were debates on National television and there were outrage on social media, more farcical that the PM is silent on this and so many other issues which each time make his government seem intolerant and dictatorial. Any disagreement is culled and people will be charged with sedition, if they talk against the government or leaders. I see this as a danger for our democracy and unless large, collective voices are raised, we will soon be in a police state.
As a Mumbaikar if you ask me, the meat is easily available in malls, restaurants, food joints too. It’s a matter of three days, people can even buy the meet and store it in their fridge, if one has to adjust then there are ways.
VHP international president Ashok Singhal has demanded a nation-wide ban on cow slaughter. He emphasised upon protection of cows is necessary for the nation’s progress and said that by banning cow slaughter, India will become a “Hindu nation by 2020”. BJP government in Gujarat demolished temples in the name of development and the Rajasthan government too emulated them. Modi the so called Hindu icon had changed his tone and skin and going random appeasing Muslims, but some Hindu radical groups stuck to beef ban and nation’s progress.
Eating any meat is a subject of personal preference which comes under the fundamental right given by the Constitution of India. As per the Constitution, the beef slaughtering was written as a state subject; that is, every state can exercise its right to ban or allow cow slaughter. It should be reminded that this ban or no ban of cow slaughter is about cow slaughter for trade. What many people do not know that even in a banned state, one can kill a cow and eat its meat and share it with others without trading it for monetory gain. This is part of every citizen-of-India’s Fundamental Right guaranteed by the constitution, which cannot by banned by any legislative body like the parliament or assembly. To knock over the clause of ‘Cow slaughter for trade’ from state subject to national needs a 2/3rd majority in the parliament. Hindu scriptures belong or refer to the Vedic period which lasted till about 500 BC according to the chronological division by modern historians. In the historical Vedic religion of Hinduism, meat eating was not banned in principle, but was restricted by specific rules.
It’s interesting to note that Ayurveda provides an impressive list of fish and animals and speak of the therapeutic uses of beef. Somesvara shows clear preference for pork over other meats. Similarly, the authors of Dharmasastra commentaries and religious digests from the ninth century permit beef in specific circumstances. So, the first inference we can draw is that Muslims rulers or religion have nothing to do with beef consumption in India. Beef had been associated with Indian dietary practices much before the advent of Islam. Many scholars believe that a challenge to Brahminical order appeared with the emergence of Buddhism. It posed a threat to the Brahminical value system. The low castes were slipping away from the grip of Brahminism. The rebellion and the emergence of a new derivative religion pushed hard the concept of the protection of cattle wealth, which was needed for the agricultural economy.
Democracy is supposed to guarantee basic human rights to every individual. It is also supposed to show good Governance with focus on public interest. The livelihoods of millions are affected by this beef ban. The government has failed on both counts i.e. basic human rights to work has been taken away from beef traders and the ban can hardly be called good Governance because the interests of beef traders have not been taken into account. What are they supposed to do? Fold their tents and move to another state hoping that the beef won’t be banned there?