With Modi government not willing to calm fears, it seems India is going back instead of moving forward in days to come
A forensic test has proven that the meat the Dadri lynch mob found in a Muslim man’s fridge was mutton not beef. But Muhammad Akhlaq was beaten to death over rumours that he butchered a cow and there was beef in his fridge. Akhlaq’s 22-year-old son was also severely wounded in the attack which is believed to have been instigated by a local BJP leader’s son.
The Muslim community is in shock. Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi criticised the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government for focusing on the forensic test instead of arresting the attackers. The story is bizarre to say the least.
According to details, a brown calf had gone missing in the village a day before Eid. On the night of September 28, a child had seen Akhlaq walk out of his house with a plastic bag with something that looked like meat in it. Akhlaq had reportedly thrown this bag in front of an electric transformer near his house.
The boy had then informed a few people about this. Four youths, one of them the son of a local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker, gathered inside a temple and concluded that the meat in the bag must be that of the missing calf. They made the announcement over the loudspeaker which led to Akhlaq’s brutal death.
It took Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi one week to respond to this attack. In his comments, Modi said at a campaign rally in Bihar that Hindus and Muslims should fight poverty and not each other. He did not condemn the killing of Mohammad Akhlaq.
In secular India, the Modi government wants a nationwide ban on beef despite the fact that beef is consumed by Muslims and other religious minorities. Modi’s comments came on the same day that members of his party beat a Muslim politician in the Kashmir state assembly after he served beef at a private party. The politician – Rashid Ahmed – said he did it in protest against a ban on serving beef in the state.
Opposition leader Omar Abdullah led a walkout, asking afterwards: “Do I assault everyone who eats pork or alcohol?” BJP Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh said he did not approve of the attack but said that serving beef was “also wrong”.
Ironically, India retains its top spot as the world’s largest exporter of beef, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and has extended its lead over the next highest exporter, Brazil. According to the data, India exported 2.4 million tons of beef and veal in FY2015, compared to 2 million tons by Brazil and 1.5 million by Australia.
These three countries account for 58.7 per cent of all the beef exports in the world. India itself accounts for 23.5 per cent of global beef exports. This is up from a 20.8 per cent share last year.
India’s buffalo meat exports have been growing at an average of nearly 14 per cent each year since 2011, and fetching the country as much as $4.8 billion in 2014. Last year, India for the first time earned more from the export of buffalo meat than it did from Basmati rice.
Meat consumption in India is increasing in India although beef consumption has been falling over the years. This fall in consumption has been taking place regardless of the political party in power. Chicken consumption, however, was up 31 per cent in that period.
Now to some more interesting beef stories from India. Earlier this month, the Indian media showed pictures of a burqa clad man alleged to be a member of RSS caught by residents of a small town in Uttar Pradesh while throwing beef into a Hindu temple. The picture went viral on Facebook and Twitter.
The viral photos shared on social media shows a bespectacled man clad in burqa being taken away by a group of people. It is believed he is being taken away to be handed to the police.
While there has been no confirmation as such on the veracity of the claim, there have been incidents in the past when extremist groups have thrown beef into a Hindu temple or have put pork outside a mosque to stoke communal tensions. With the Modi government not willing to calm fears, it seems India is in danger of going back instead of moving forward in days to come.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2015.
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