The easiest way to divert peoples’ attention from the basic problems is to start some emotional controversy. Eating or not eating, the “beef”, is a case in point
The likes and dislikes of the various items of food eaten by people in different parts of the world are varied and sometimes contradictory. Everyone has his own preference and like or dislike of different edible items. Apart from normal things like chickens, mutton, pork, and beef people also eat snakes, snails, turtles, and even dogs! Assamese are supposed to be fond of dog meat! Muslims and Jews abhor pork. They don’t even take the name of the animal! Cow is holy to Hindus and they call it the “Mother Cow” or “Gau Mata”! However, there has never been any religious association with the eating habits of various people. People have been eating both beef and pork in different parts of the sub-continent without any body interfering in their eating styles. Cow Slaughter had been banned in Kashmir by a law enacted in the nineteenth century during the rule of Dogra Maharajas. Even after partition with the establishment of a local government no one made any effort to get the law repealed. However, there never was a problem here as generally Kashmiris are not fond of beef. They prefer mutton.
The recent controversy about the beef ban connected with cow slaughter is alleged to have been started by certain elements with ulterior motives. It is said to have a well-defined pattern as the controversy with some gory incidents including the one at Dadri appear to be part of a long term strategy of turning India into Hindutva State. It is the beginning of the end to the so called “Secular” character of India. A columnist friend calls it the “Unmaking of India”. A number of prominent persons have returned the state awards protesting against some of these incidents connected with communalisation of India starkly manifested by the beef controversy.
As usual, Kashmir became the epicentre of the controversy. The instigators fully know about the emotionally charged atmosphere in the state especially the extreme alienation. Kashmir has been considered a powder keg in the recent times and any mischievous person can light a match to blow up the whole thing up. The Hindutva promoters from outside the state used their Jammu plants to light the fuse. The first red rag was the filing of a Public Interest Litigation in the State High Court regarding implementation of the Cow slaughter ban by a Government Advocate. The Court’s direction to the State Police Chief resulted in a counter action of cow slaughter in public by the emotionally charged youth. Then there was a chain reaction and the last act in the series was the attack on Kashmir bound truckers in Udhampur. The Jammu instigators threatened to enforce an economic boycott of the valley. The public display of eating beef allegedly indulged in by someone claiming to be a peoples’ representative was not in good taste. People on the social network Facebook alleged it to be gimmickry amounting to demagoguery! A protest shut down in Kashmir spiralled the situation on the pattern of 2008 Amarnath land controversy which had finally resulted in the collapse of the government and imposition of Governor’s rule. It is said history repeats itself and in Kashmir it repeats itself endlessly! Fortunately, the initiative from Chamber of Commerce, Jammu may defuse the situation and expose the mischievous elements. Also from the Kashmir side, the leader of the popular movement advised people to follow the teachings of Holy Quran to respect others’ religion and desist from public display of their own belief.
However, the unfortunate part of the whole spiralling controversy is the shelving of the most urgent tasks. The first has been the rehabilitation of the flood affected people and restoration of the damaged infrastructure. The exponentially increasing number of unemployed educated youth. Total anarchy and lack of accountability both in the administration and in the society in general. The fast deteriorating natural environment. Above everything else the perennial political uncertainty. It had been observed by many political analysts that a strong central government especially of BJP will be able to take revolutionary decisions in solving the long pending Kashmir problem. However, the reverse is happening. By their Hindutva tirades and anti-Muslim campaigns, they are surely heading for the “Unmaking of India”!
Narendra Modi through his utterances and very subtle actions has shown that he is giving a practical shape to the RSS agenda of a Hindu Rashtra. He may be dreaming to become a Chandragupta Mauraya in whose time India existed as a very large Hindu Empire. However, he needs to study the history in its entirety. Chandragupta Mauraya towards his end adopted Jainism and starved himself to death. His grandson Ashoka had the largest ever empire but after the battle of Kalinga, the mayhem resulting in death and destruction made him turn towards Buddhism. He gave up his throne and became a Buddhist monk! Let us hope that the “Beef War” started in Modi’s time does not end in a similar fate for him!