Kerala may be known as God’s Own Country for its natural beauty, but in recent decades this Indian state has displayed more beautiful traits than one, the most striking of which is secularism. Recently, Hindus unified with Muslims on the steps of the state secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram for a beef-eating party to protest against the gruesome lynching that took place in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh last month.
In a diverse nation like India, Kerala has consistently set great examples of communal harmony despite a sudden influx of sectarian forces that seem to be growing more popular with every passing day. With their display of solidarity however, the unified group of Hindu and Muslim protesters in Kerala attempted to drive home a simple point – the killing of any individual over his or her food choices is not only unfair but also condemnable.
Demonstrators from the group “Solidarity” carried placards, reading, “Eating Beef, Come and Kill Us,” through the protest, as they served themselves and those who chose to join them, delicious porotta with beef curry. Beef is ranked highly in the state’s non-vegetarian cuisine, with adherents of all faiths consuming the meat. This practice is in sharp contrast to the misleading notion that Hindus do not consume beef because of religious reasons.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally broke his weeklong silence over the Dadri lynching, urging Indians to turn a deaf ear to hate speeches and ignore those who are constantly trying to create a rift between Hindus and Muslims.
“We must decide whether Hindus and Muslims should fight each other, or against poverty,” he said. “Only peace and goodwill can take this country forward.”
Since 50-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched to death by a mob of Hindu zealots over rumours that he had butchered a cow to consume beef, politicians affiliated with Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including some ministers, have continued to make statements evidently defending those that carried out the killing. While cows are considered holy by most Hindus, who happen to constitute the majority of India’s 1.2 billion population, beef is commonly consumed by Muslims, Christians and even some Hindus.
Last week, lawmakers from the Hindu nationalist BJP verbally and physically assaulted a Muslim politician from the opposition party in Kashmir for consuming beef inside a government building.
“I have done nothing wrong,” said Abdul Rashid Sheikh. “I consumed beef. It is my religious right and also my fundamental right.”
Even though state officials condemned the incident, no complaint was filed against the perpetrators. The pitiful situation emerged after authorities in Jammu and Kashmir decided to enforce a ban on the sale and consumption of beef last month. Naturally, the order went on to stir fierce protests in India’s only Muslim-majority state, forcing a three-day shutdown during Eid. Currently, those opposing the order are seeking a stay on the ban from the Supreme Court.
Photo Credits: DineTable