On an eventful Thursday, independent lawmaker Engineer Rashid was thrashed by BJP legislators inside the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly for hosting a beef party at his official residence in Srinagar. A few hours after that, Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his eight-day silence on the lynching of Mohammed Akhlaq for allegedly eating beef in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh. It seems like the eating habits of citizens are the most important things to be discussed these days.
The lawmaker, who termed the assault on him by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs as “terrorism and hooliganism” said, “Nearly six to eight BJP members grabbed me and kicked and punched me. They tried to kill me. Is this democratic behavior? And you expect separatists to join this Assembly.” There is a million dollar question. After all, MLAs, who are representatives elected by voters to the legislature of a State, are not expected to act in the described manner.
“I didn’t use the hostel’s facility and food was brought from outside. I had no intention of hurting anyone’s sentiments,” he added. “You will find many bottles of liquor at the MLA hostel”, he told the reporters, adding that “if legislators can have alcohol, why can’t I have beef?”
Another point that defends the hosting of the beef party is that beef was banned under the state’s Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) and the high court had ordered its implementation, but a Supreme Court order suspended its enforcement for two months in the state.
From beef festivals in colleges in Kerala to a beef party in an MLA hostel, citizens all over the country are obviously trying to send a message that nobody can stop anyone in a secular country from eating what they want to eat. Why are people suddenly offended? We had known of no such problems in the past.
One of Rashid’s attackers, an agitated Ravindra Raina said, “Whoever disrespects Gau Mata will have to face this. Everyone knows the cow is sacred to Hindus.”
Every religion has rules, but no religion imposes those rules on followers of other religions.
“What happened today is impossible to digest. An honourable member being assaulted in the House. It seems that they wanted to murder him. If he had done anything that was objectionable that should have been put on record,” the former Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah says while condemning the assault incident.
In his speech in Bihar’s Nawada district, Prime Minister Modi said the country must follow President Pranab Mukherkjee’s words on maintaining India’s core values of diversity and tolerance. “Do we fight muslims or poverty? I want to appeal to everyone to not listen to hate speeches,” he said. This raises a question. Why didn’t the Prime Minister mention the brutal killing of an innocent man in Dadri? Some are of the opinion that these are nothing but hollow words of a seasoned politician while the BJP turns a blind eye to such remarks.
The day the Prime Minister’s words materialize will be the day India becomes truly secular as enshrined in the constitution.