No cow, no beef, no slaughtering – Will Indian Muslims be able to celebrate Eidul Azha with zeal?

Published: September 2, 2017
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Muslims offer prayers before sacrificing a goat on Eidul Azha in Allahabad, India, December 9, 2008. PHOTO: AP

India at 70 is an entirely different country as compared to when it started its journey as an independent nation in the summer of 1947. It ranks amongst the leading economies of the world, sent a satellite to the moon, is nuclear-armed, and is a country admired by most.

But unfortunately, this progress cannot mask its ugly reality. In 1947, the most pressing challenge, other than economic development, was settling the dust of the Partition. It was an urgent and long-term necessity needed to create societal harmony. An atmosphere where the country’s secular and multicultural temperament would return to normalcy was imperative.

Decades of sustained effort paid off and secularism firmly entrenched itself in our soil, despite discouragement by some right-wing fringe groups. The entire idea of nation building is built upon harmony and honing diversity and multiculturalism, which India worked effortlessly towards. This effort was important in order to heal the wounds of the Partition and weaken the religious fault lines.

The Hindu right-wing has always been a lurking danger, but the masses rejected their version of politics. However, with the gradual decline of the Congress party and some of the strong centrist regional players, the Hindu right-wing managed to move beyond the periphery, and today, it occupies mainstream politics in India. For the first time in independent India’s history, they managed to achieve a full majority in the parliament in 2014.

This date is proving to be a turning point in India’s history. A political force which has always advocated for the Two-Nation Theory and promotes religious divide has become the ruling force and the result of this is evident in today’s India.

Never before in independent India’s history has a Muslim felt as insecure as they do now. The 14.2% Muslim population has been reduced to such a state where their ethos, culture and history are being questioned. There have been numerous systematic attempts aimed at reducing the Islamic culture and history in India. They are now being made to look like aliens in their own country. This is evident through the beef banclosure of abattoirs and forcing the Muslim minority to sing the Indian national anthem in order to prove their patriotism.

Today, the situation is such that a Muslim is scared to carry any kind of meat with them. The spate of killings due to cow slaughter and beef eating has created a great fear psychosis in the minds of the Muslim minority. The decision to serve only vegetarian meals during Air India flights, the national carrier, also illustrates how parochial the present regime is.

The situation has come to such a pass that any harm to cows is automatically ascribed to Muslims. Every week, we come across a new story regarding cow-related violence. These attacks have reached unprecedented heights. The Agra episode, over a week ago, is a case in point where unknown assailants carried out acid attacks on cows and oxen. Even though the identity of the attackers is still unknown, the attack is being blamed on Muslims without any evidence whatsoever. This mind-set is an extremely dangerous addition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s version of India. So much so that now, Muslims prefer not to even carry food, be it vegetarian or non-vegetarian, when they travel from one city to another. They would rather be safe than sorry.

This Eidul Azha, fear and apprehension within the Muslim minority as to how the religious occasion will play out is palpable. With extra vigilance being mounted on them by the Hindu right-wing government, it may not be as festive. Can Indian Muslims celebrate the occasion that revolves mainly around cow slaughtering and beef consumption with fervour and without any apprehension or hindrance? The blatant increase in beef lynchings and attacks on Muslims will prove to be a damper on the Muslim minority this Eidul Azha. There are rumours making rounds that some state governments have allegedly asked security agencies to register each and every animal sold during this religious occasion. However, the rumour is unverifiable.

Muslims have never been made to feel as outsiders by any government in power up until now, all thanks to Modi, whose regime derives its leitmotif from an anti-minority/anti-Muslim agenda.

It is not just the Muslim minority that consumes beef; a vast majority of Hindus, tribals and other minorities also consume beef. Forcing people to eat only vegetarian food is a direct attack on diversity and the democratic choices of Indians.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its patron, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), are not only tampering with history, they are also trying to alter the historical truth. Recently, in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, which is under BJP’s control, history textbooks were alteredThey portrayed the local Rajput King Maharana Pratap as a victor in the famous Haldighati Battle in 1676 against the Mughal Emperor Akbar.

However, the correct historical truth is that Akbar defeated Pratap and ended up expanding his empire. By altering the historical details and facts, the BJP government wants to undermine Islamic history in India. They want to render the Muslims as a fringe religious group.

India at 70 faces a far graver crisis than it faced in 1947. It finds itself acting as a proponent of the Two-Nation Theory that wants India to be divided into two nations.

Santosh Arora

Santosh Arora

The blogger is a journalist from India.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.