The shadowed history and rummage of beef killings

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4 men committed suicide by consuming pesticides after being brutally abused by the village people for having skinned cows. This incident took place at Una in Saurashtra, Gujarat on 19th July 2016. the deceased men were Dalits and and protests are rising against the atrocity by committing arson, staging bands, vandalism, damaging public property and further more attempted suicides. (number went up to 17). the families of the deceased were promised an amount of Rs. 1 Lakh each, but following the riot it has been raised to 4.

Similar savage incidents against cow slaughter has become a serious threat to peace in the society. Article 48 listed in the directive principles of state policy (are guidelines for the framing of laws by the government, but not enforceable in a court of law) of our constitution states-

“The State shall endeavor to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and drought cattle.”

While offenders seem to take take cover under it, it makes us question that in a country where convicts of rape and murder are given the privilege of trial by court, common people are abused by the society? what provokes such degree of violence in the mob? Is the notion that ‘ India has a culture of non slaughter towards cows’ imbibed in our people or is it imparted?

The practice of offering cows as a form of sacrifice  and eating them has been existent even before the Vedic times. Earlier then, cows were not given the privilege of ‘holiness’. Some sources refer to Ramayana describing sacrifice of cows and horses during yajnas. It was much later, during the period of Buddha that cow slaughter was thwarted by his preachings; which spread to other religions such as hinduism and Jainism. Emperor Asoka, who converted to Buddhism, did not turn into a complete vegetarian. he reduced the number of cattle slaughtered for his kitchen. Meanwhile, Babur, instructed his son Human to respect the practices of the land and not slaughter cows. 

In 1940, Indian National Congress (INC) tried to pass a bill preventing cow slaughter, but the party had a divided opinion. In 1944, the British placed restrictions on slaughter (hides from cows were exported to Britain) stating that the shortage in cattle was causing the government anxiety. In 1950, the central government advised the state governments against total prohibition on slaughter (entry 15 of VII schedule of the constitution empowers states to legislate prevention on slaughter) since it would affect the tanning industry. Yet, not all states have enforced prohibition.

India ranks 7th in consumption of beef and first in export. Even though most of the exported meat is water bull (which is not considered holy), the fact still remains that the government slaughters cattle in the interest of its industries. India has 3600 legal slaughterhouses and 30,000 illegal ones.

so now, why are the people so divided on an issue that the government does not stand for?

Victims of the attack from cow vigilante group are hospitalized bearing lashes with rods and pipes at a hospital in Rajkot.   They also suffer psychological trauma. Leaders from congress and AAp are making calls and visiting the victims.

 

References:

  1. The Making of an Indian Metropolis, Colonial governance and public culture in Bombay, 1890/1920, Prashant Kidambi, p. 176, ISBN 978-0-7546-5612-8
  2. Constitution of India
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Gayathri Subramanian

As a child, Gayathri grew up in Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar islands. She completed her schooling there; passed undergrad Biotech from Kalasalingam University, Madurai, Tamil Nadu and postgrad Environmental Engg. from Thiagarajar college of Engineering, Madurai. She worked as an assistant Professor in Velammal College of Engineering and Technology for a brief period. Her hobby of writing entailed from a love for language, travel and reading. She had been writing small articles and poems for school and college magazines. she likes to link current affairs with history and economics. As a person who grew up in different places, she was enticed with culture and people. She loves to identify similarities between people from different faiths and countries. Presently, she lives in Morrisville, NC with her husband, observing and in awe of a more diverse environment.

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