Maharashtra, Haryana may have banned beef, but are among biggest supplier of cattle to Bangla abattoirs
He that sleeps feels not the tooth-ache. An India in somnolent slumber after voting for development in 2014 may wake up to find itself saddled with an archaic agenda riding astride a society in strife. For starters, take meat. As if on cue, state after BJP-ruled state has suddenly woken up to the overarching religious need for keeping meat and fish shops as well as abattoirs closed on Hindu and Jain festival days.
Maharashtra took the lead followed by Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chattisgarh, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir. A similar ban had been placed in Karnataka when the BJP held power. No prizes for guessing where this inspiration/diktat comes from. Obviously, Nagpur.
The Narendra Modi-led BJP government is apparently frittering away a rock solid mandate for forward looking national governance befitting a robust, youthful country on archaic, delusional visions of ancient grandeur.
The Fadnavis government in Maharashtra soon found itself done in when their High Court intervened to restore reason and reduced it to two days but not before BJP’s partner in power, Shiv Sena as well as it’s offshoot MNS set up stalls to sell meat in defiance. The ban, ostensibly because of the Jain festival of Paryushan is a poor and ill-advised attempt at playing petty politics by placing the gun on their shoulders. The entire opposition – Shiv Sena, Congress, NCP and MNS – slammed the move. A two day ban had been in place since 1964. Last year it was increased to four and this time to eight days, triggering the uproar and now it is back to two.
Similarly in Gujarat slaughter houses in all the key municipal corporation areas of the state were ordered closed from September 10 to 17 with respective civic bodies issuing notifications for the same. The ban in Jammu and Kashmir only led to public slaughtering of cows in defiance of the high Court order enforcing the colonial-era Ranbir penal code which immediately rekindled memories of a similar defiant cow sacrifice at the lal Chowk in Srinagar in the mid-eighties.
The orders to the Kashmir cops to enforce a 150-year-old rule led to a complete shutdown of the valley and only put the PDP-BJP government up to ridicule. So ham-handed has decision making been that in Rajasthan, along with meat even liquor sale was banned. However, the uproar that followed led to the ban on sale of liquor being removed. Which of the two would be termed as more harmful?
The well-orchestrated move has set alarm bells ringing and it is the Narendra Modi government which is in the cross-hairs of suspicion. For one, it is the sheathed agenda, hidden onion peal like, that is cause of worry. The Jains are a mere façade, the gun is targeted elsewhere. However, the polarization process sought to be crystallized will have a deadly fall-out.
The ethnic ferment being witnessed in Gujarat today is the poisonous repercussion of a process of communal polarization that was initiated by the then newly appointed chief minister, Narendra Modi post-the 2002 Godhra train carnage and the statewide communal riots that followed it. The incipient infection spread through the veins of the state when he embarked on his statewide Gaurav yatra as a prelude to the State Assembly polls that followed in 2002.
Modi swept the polls on a polarized majority community support but the fabric of social and cultural amity sewn together by generations of Gandhians and philanthropists was irretrievably damaged. The process did not stop at communalization but the contagion has now permeated to even Hindu sub-sects.
Post-2002 communities began publicizing their identities and one could see vehicles and shops sporting stickers like Patidars, Desai’s (shepherd), Durbars (Rajputs), Parshuram (Brahmins) to flaunt their religious identities. It was the outward manifestation of a rapidly spreading inner malaise. While Modi sowed the wind and reaped it too, it is his successor Anandiben Patel who is now harvesting the whirlwind with her own community of Patidars in revolt.
Patel MPs, MLAs and ministers belonging to the BJP are being boycotted and hounded by their own kinsmen and are forced to flee from villages, towns and even official functions all over Gujarat. The state function in Gandhinagar on the occasion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday on September 17 was held under unprecedented security amidst fears of disruption by the agitating Patidars. Similar fears also hound his ensuing visit to Silicon Valley.
It is payback time and I deign to predict that whatever may be the outcome of this agitation, it will be Modi’s own BJP which will pay a very heavy price for it in Gujarat in the next elections.
Interestingly, for all the crocodile tears being shed for the bovines of India, the export of beef has gone up during his rule at the Centre. Modi had led a frontal assault on the UPA government during his 2014 general election campaign.
“India worships cows as goddess but under UPA rule it is the second largest beef exporter in the world.The Congress led government is the initiator of the Pink revolution. This government gives subsidy for setting up slaughter houses but not to set up cow farms.If we come to power we will ban such export ”, he had stated.
Over a year of Modi rule has gone by and there is no ban on beef export anywhere on the horizon. The Prime Minister does not utter a single word on the subject. His minister’s obfuscate the issue, stating that the matter is best left to the states.
On the contrary, in a classic case of governmental double speak, beef exports have actually gone up during BJP rule. Available figures point to a 16 per cent rise in such meat export in the first six months. From April to October 2013, the export was worth Rs 13,917 crores while over the same period in 2014 the figure was Rs 16,085 crores which makes for a 15 per cent increase. The figure is expected to be much higher in the period thereafter.
Though Maharashtra and Haryana may have banned beef, the two states are among the biggest supplier of cattle to Bangladesh. According to a report at least 60,000 cows are smuggled into Bangladesh. They arrive in trucks from Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Haryana and UP and are sold in ‘special mandis’ in West Bengal. Ultra-modern abbatoirs have come up on the Bangladesh side of the border.
The beef is then legally exported to other Asian countries as well as to the Gulf countries. In India beef costs Rs 150 per kg while in Bangladesh it sells at Rs 320 per kg. The price in the countries of export could be anybody’s guess. Those in power could do well to remember that the afternoon knows what the morning never suspected!
*Senior journalist. RK Misra's blogs can be accessed at http://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.in/