With beef detection kits, state's morality under BJP plunges to a new low
In two months it will be two years since a 52-year-old man called Mohammad Akhlaq was murdered by a group of his fellow villagers because of the meat in his fridge. Ideally, it should have been nobody's business to ask what did he eat but that's how the case moved.
Since then, this narrative of senseless focus on the nature of meat and not the crime of murdering or wounding a human being has only deepened. Now, Maharashtra has decided to take the narrative to the next level, with the introduction of handy beef-detection kits.
Reports have emerged that the police across the state would get meat detection kits that will test meat and indicate which animal it belongs to in 30 minutes.
The Maharashtra government's Forensic Science Laboratory is reportedly developing these kits, which, at Rs 8,000 apiece, will allow the police to check the nature of the meat on the spot.
The case being made out for these kits is that presently the meat has to be sent to forensic laboratories and it takes at least a couple of days for the results to come out. These kits will save all that hassle and time and enable police to decide on a future course of action within half an hour.
When they put it like that, the idea may sound logical to some but the reality is that it only serves to perpetuate the perverse politics behind beef-ban and so-called cow-protection.
Will this kit matter in the Dadri case?
Had this kit been around in Dadri at the time of Akhlaq's murder, would it have made any difference to the case? One might feel compelled to say yes given that the nature of the meat seized from the crime scene has still not been conclusively established, even after two years.
However, the truth is that it is politics, and not any equipment, that is responsible for this delay.
The meat was first pronounced as mutton by police but it mysteriously turned into beef a couple of months later. The killers, meanwhile, are yet to be convicted or even charge-sheeted. One of them died in the interregnum and he got a soldier's farewell in his village, with his body draped in the national flag, a Union minister by his side.
It must be repeatedly pointed out that the nature of the meat is irrelevant to the discourse. Even if Akhlaq had consumed beef, why should he have been killed for it? Even if cow-slaughter is illegal, how does consumption of beef justify murder? And when such murders happen, why does the focus shift from holding the murderers accountable to the dead victim's imagined culpability?
Criminals are running amok across the country, lynching people on the pretext of saving the cow. As all lynchings go, the guilt of the victim is never established. As the Ramgarh incident has shown, the victim is even identified, trailed and then killed in a planned manner.
The goal is to spread terror among lower castes and Muslims, not because they are the ones widely believed to be dealing with dead cows but because terrorising them will help the RSS and BJP in consolidating radical Hindu voters behind them. The beef-detection kits are yet another instrument of this campaign.