The young CPI(M) and Congress brigades in Kerala should have protested through normal political means, even vociferously.
Two recent incidents in Kerala — with the CPI(M) students’ wing throwing a beef party to protest against the Centre’s regulation banning the sale of farm animals for slaughter at cattle markets, and the competitive “militancy” by the state Youth Congress in slaughtering a calf in public and distributing its meat — are hair-raising, uncivilised, and morally decrepit. They do nothing to enhance the so-called secular credentials of the organisers.
The Centre’s notification is faulty for various reasons, and should be drastically amended or withdrawn. The Madurai bench of the Madras high court has in any case stayed it for four weeks, and sought the government’s response. It basically hits at the employment of lakhs of people, mainly those from the minority community who depend on the meat trade that earns the country millions of dollars in exports. But it also gives the impression that it helps the agenda of cow-vigilante brigades, described by a top journalist-intellectual and former NDA minister as “decentralised goondaism”, of forcing the country to fall in line with dietary prohibitions of caste Hindus in most parts of the country against cow meat.
To allow cow slaughter or not is a state subject, and barring West Bengal, Kerala and some northeastern states, the other states prohibit it, no matter who rules them. This is in deference to prevailing Hindu religious sentiment in these parts, but buffalo meat is not banned. Muslims have raised no objection to this. The present Central guidelines also include the buffalo meat industry and affect lakhs of jobs.
The Centre’s rules and guidelines has justifiably riled West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, who has spoken of the breach of the federal principle, and the DMK in Tamil Nadu. But it is peevish of these entities to hint at an agitation that could get out of hand. They should not give the impression that, in sentiment, they are not distancing themselves from the reprehensible Kerala incidents.
A prominent BJP Union minister from Arunachal Pradesh, Kiren Rijiju, had recently declared he ate cow meat, and this was common in his state. That’s his lookout. India is a complex nation with varying regional traditions. The Centre shouldn’t ride roughshod on them.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has done the right thing by describing the Kerala Youth Congress’ actions as “thoughtless” and “uncivilised”. In matters like dietary traditions and religious habits, Mahatma Gandhi points the way. As a devout Hindu, for him killing the cow for meat was like taking his mother’s life. But he is on record as saying he wouldn’t impose his views on those with different traditions and habits.
The young CPI(M) and Congress brigades in Kerala should have protested through normal political means, even vociferously. But to kill animals to further political agendas is shocking and depraved.