Digital India, Beef Ban and Mohammad Akhlaq

Indian prime minster was in the US, in the last week of Sep, 2015, wooing top businessmen of the United States to invest in India. Prime minister was talking to heads of Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple about e-governance and digital India, Around the same time, Mohammad Akhlaq a small time handyman was dragged out of his home in village Bisara, near Dadri and killed. Mohammad Akhlaq was accused of eating beef in his house on the occasion of Id. 

What I find atrocious and Taliban like is that a mob of Hindu youth barged into Akhlaq’s house, searched his refrigerator for meat. When they found meat, they beat Akhlaq to death. Questions emerge,

  • Is this the sign of a civilised society, where a cow is given more value than a human being?
  • The mob did not know if the man had eaten beef. They searched his refrigerator. That is an outrage in itself.
  • They found meat and beat the owner to death. How do the mob know that the meat is beef?
  • Who are these people to decide what anyone else should eat?
  • An announcement was made using public address system of a temple nearby that Akhlaq and his family had consumed meat.  How did the priest and his accomplishes know about what the person is eating in his home unless it is a preplanned conspiracy?
  • Apparently killers were computer literate. They had spread the message using whatsapp. A primitive mind, that kills a man over a suspected slaughter of a cow, with technology can be dangerous. Do not arm a monkey with a sword, it can be disastrous.

To add insult to the injury, BJP party leaders MPs, MLAs from far and near were more concerned about killing of a cow. It was appalling that BJP leaders at the local level had very little to offer in the form of a soothing balm to the aggrieved family. Are they really that crass or are they blinded by loyalty to mother cow? 

Dr. Mahesh Sharma, local member of parliament and the minister of culture in central government, had said the death was an accident. It is difficult to understand the logic, when a human being is killed by fellow humans? More so when the mob was organised after making an announcement from the local temple? There is no denying that grievously injured son of Mohammad Akhlaq was treated in the nursing home / hospital of Dr. Mahesh Sharma. What good is such generosity, if local member of parliament could not stop loss of an innocent life in his own constituency over a false charge?

Another BJP MLA, Mr. Sangeet Som has not only not expressed  any remorse for the killing of Akhlaq, he blamed state government of politics of minority appeasement. Mr. Som also demanded release of innocent youths arrested by police and threatened a strong response if demands are not met. 

A lot needs to be said about state government’s law and order machinery and its preparedness. 

  • Why police did not anticipate the conspiracy and stop the killing by acting proactively? 
  • Villagers were beating up journalists covering the incidence right in front of the police. Police remained a mute spectator. 
  • A BJP MP addressed a public meeting in the village when section 144 was in place, why was such a meeting permitted? 
  • I think a lot of effort is underway to polarise the voters. BJP and Samajwadi Party may get benefit of polarisation India will lose the plot.

It is important to note however, that cow meat was eaten by a Hindu  in ancient times. As society became increasingly agrarian in nature, cow was considered an asset. It not only helped in  agriculture, it also gave nourishment in the form of milk. Overtime, society has started considering cow to be equivalent to mother. Many Hindus consider cow to be holy, as a result cow slaughter is banned in almost all of India, barring a few states. It is important to point out though in increasingly in urbanised India, many cow owners let their cows loose, beyond productive age, to find their food on their own. Cows roam around streets. Some get injured, some die, others feed on garbage and plastic. Many cows, despite their holy status, die painful death. 

Buffalo meat is consumed as beef in India. Ever since BJP lead government has come in power in different states, there has been a spate of banning meat eating on the pretext of hurting religious sentiments of Hindus and other non vegetarians during festival seasons. Now we hear that an effort is on to ban buffalo slaughter also on the pretext of buffalo and cow belong to same family of animals. While, it is morally superior to be a non vegetarian. But society is a mixture of all kind of people with differing food habits. Is it the responsibility of government to decide who eats what? Hardly!

Last year I voted for Mr. Narendra Modi. I voted to see a developed India. An India where corruption is minimised through use of technology. An India, where people are empowered to standup on their feet and not rely on government dole. An India that has clean streets in cities and towns. I am happy that Mr. Modi is encouraging business people to invest in India. This will create job and bring prosperity to India. 

`However, party that Mr. Modi heads has an underbelly that represents Hindu Chauvinism, that manifests as a dislike for minorities, an intolerance to dissenting voice critical of Hindu way of life. This has been evident in numerous statements of the party functionaries as well as party affiliates. Such sentiments manifest as love jihad, ghar wapsi, killing of rationalists and of late lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq. 

To me questions that come to my mind are :

  • What good is any digital India or e-governance, if a man can be killed right at the door step of national capital for eating meat in his own house. 
  • What good is prosperity, when our leaders that call a lynching an accident, are not sacked. 
  • What good is any development, if killer of an innocent Indian is not brought to book speedily, justice is delivered in an unbiased manner and divisive politics is nipped in the bud.
It is true honourable home minister had assured the nation of zero tolerance towards communal hatred. Honourable finance minister had said such incidents bring bad name to development agenda. Mr. Prime Minister sir, it is your government. As head of the government you have to assuage hurt feelings of Indian citizens that voted for you in the hope of better India. An India where minorities are not safe, is no different from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Middle East. By keeping the communal pot burning, BJP may gain in short term, but India will derail from progress and prosperity for a long time.

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