Beef incidents show ugly face of growing intolerance

August 30, 2015: Kannada scholar and researcher M M Kalburgi shot dead in Dharward, Karnataka. About two years ago, rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare were killed in Maharashtra.

September 28: Mohammad Akhlaq lynched by mob on rumours that he and his family had cow meat in a meal at their Bisara village residence in Greater Noida of Uttar Pradesh. His son Danish is slowly recuperating from a near fatal injury received from mob attack.    
October 9: Bajrang Dal member Prashant Poojary, instrumental in carrying out raids on illegal slaughterhouses, hacked to death by motor-cycle borne miscreants in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka.

October 12: A former aide of BJP veteran leader L K Advani, Sudheendra Kulkarni’s face was smeared with ink by Shiv Sena activists protesting against him organising a function in Mumbai to launch book of a former Pakistan foreign minister. The event, however, happened after the state provided security for the function.

October 12, 2015: A desecrated copy of Guru Granth Sahib found in Faridkot which provoked communal tension in Punjab. 

October 16, 2015: An alleged cattle smuggler, Noman Akhtar lynched to death by a mob in Nahan district of Himachal Pradesh.

October 18, 2015: Shiv Sena members swamp into the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai to protest against resuming of cricketing ties between India and Pakistan.

October 26: Kerala House canteen was searched by Delhi police after receiving a call from a Hindu Sena activist complaining that it was serving beef (meaning for them was cow and not buffalo meat) on its menu. It sparked off blame game between Kerala government and Centre on beef politics.

That’s the ugly face of the growing intolerance perpetuated largely by the vigilantism of the emboldened Hindutva fringe. The Modi government is coming under mounting pressure once again in his 17-month tenure to address the seize from within that has led to loud protest from varied intelligentsia giving up their awards, a fresh trend post resurgence of Sangh Parivar’s controversial “ghar wapsi” programme last December. 
A sense of despondency is slowly setting into the nation that is feeling slightly hurt because the 2014 mandate which was for heralding a new economic and governance order is getting suffocated due to the perceived prominence of “Hindu-first” agenda of the looney fringe.

For Prime Minister Narendra Modi already burdened with huge expectations brought by the sweeping mandate,  the ambiguity in dealing with Hindutva affiliates and in-house motormouths of the kind of Sakshi Maharaj, Mahesh Sharma and Sangeet Som,  are vitiating the atmosphere in the country -- which is also staring at unexpected price rice of pulse and onion, besides global economic gloom. 

The Dadri mob lynching and Kerala Hosue beef episode are shocking examples of sprouting of Hindutva-supporting vigilante groups that are not hesitant to take law and order in their hands. Due to the surcharged atmosphere, facts are becoming causality to rumours – as both the cases have demonstrated.

While in Dadri, Mohammad Akhlaq was killed merely on rumour that he ate cow meat, in the Kerala House incident too, Hindu Sena activist Vishnu Gupta called city police to take action against the staff since for him beef on menu meant cow meat and not that of buffalo which is always legally served there.

The beef politics has always been sprinkled with large dose of duplicity. Though religious beliefs are attached to prohibit slaughter of cow and has been cited that even Mughal emperors including Akbar were against it to respect Hindu sentiments, legislations in states, piloted by major political parties, have been built on arguments that cow and its progeny
are useful for the purposes of draught, agricultural operations, breeding, giving milk or bearing off spring.

If the UPA-II regime had become the preface for political nepotism and institutionalised corruption, Hindutva hotheads are turning out to be a drag on the NDA though BJP leaders repeatedly argue that some freak incidents are being turned on its head to portray that the Centre has lost the plot.

“Manufactured revolt”
Notwithstanding this, Modi continues to retain his individual popularity which is visible in his Bihar assembly poll rallies drawing large crowds. Modi, however, was forced to break his silence during a rally after a prodding by President Pranab Mukherjee who thrice advocated virtues of “diversity, plurality and tolerance”. But then, Modi spoke little of substance, failed to condemn the incidents, ask the perpetrators to stop the attacks or direct police to take stern action against the attackers.

The government has dubbed intelligentsia protests as “manufactured revolt” peddled by the opposition parties which want to catch the regime some how by its tail, having failed to get anything substantial against the Modi-led NDA.

The BJP insiders suggest one should wait for the Bihar election results to see the whip BJP is going to crack on the fringe elements and against its leaders making disparaging remarks.
BJP chief Amit Shah hauled up some of its leaders – including Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Union Minister Mahesh Sharma – for making disparaging remarks that lent fodder to opposition parties to castigate the government and derail its development agenda, insisted a BJP leader.

With perception in politics now as unstable as sensex rallies thanks to the social media-generated debates influencing opinions in five minutes and not in five years, as acknowledged by Modi himself during his visit to Facebook headquarters in California recently, the cry for restraining fringe elements is not displaced but urgent before they become Frankenstein.

Lumpen elements of whatever variety – whether of a particular caste or a religion – have the inherent ability to dwarf political parties like parasites if pampered. At least that’s what happened to the RJD which, owing to its leader Lalu Prasad patronising ruffians during his and his wife’s stints as Bihar chief ministers, earned the epitaph of Jungle Raj. 

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