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Beef politics ahead of Eid: what is Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar up to?

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:47 IST

The Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government in Haryana continues to implement the RSS agenda in the state by indulging in bovine politics.

The latest in the series is the collection of biryani samples from the state's only Muslim-dominated district of Mewat, and sending them for tests to Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (LLRU) at Hisar to see whether they contain beef.

Reports say that seven of these samples have tested positive. LLRU authorities weren't available for comment, despite several phone calls made to the director, research, and the vice chancellor.

Cow protection task force

Activists and observers have raised several questions on the intent of the government and the personnel of the recently-formed Cow Protection Task Force (CPTF), besides the locus standi of the laboratory conducting these tests. It is being pointed out that these activities being carried out just before Eid-ul-Adha are once again an example of isolating and targeting a particular community.

Immediately after coming into power, the Khattar government had enacted the Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act. Its Gau Sewa Aayog has drawn criticism all over for its cow vigilantism and, more recently, the government posted a DIG level officer to lead a 300-member task force to check cow smuggling and slaughter, in the name of the CPTF.

It was following a reported complaint that the authorities in Mewat district collected samples of biryani from shopkeepers and vendors in Ferozpur Jhirka area. More samples are expected to be collected over the next one week.

Why is it promoting bovine politics?

The main question being asked about the actions of the state government is - why is it promoting bovine politics? What is the need to indulge in such acts at this point of time, when there are no elections round the corner?

Secondly, with the state being primarily Hindu-dominated, what kind of threat is perceived from Mewat, which is the poorest district in the state and is the only place with a sizable Muslim population?

In a district that has no history of communal flare-ups, why are attempts being made to carry out acts that might result in communal tensions?

Political analyst Balwant Takshak points out that having failed to polarise people in the long run on the lines of caste, attempts are now being made to try the politics of polarisation along religious lines.

"Everyone knows what happened during the Jat agitation. But all that fizzled out in a few days. The ruling party failed to pit the Yadavs against the Jats or the Sainis against the Jats and vice-versa in the long run. The people who were killed died in clashes with security forces, and not fighting each other. Now, they want to consolidate various Hindu communities by pitting them against the Muslims, and branding the latter as a common enemy. They are desperately trying to do this and address the common public through this communal agenda," Takshak says.

Dr Gurmeet Singh, a journalist-turned-academic who has been keeping a close watch on the developments in Haryana, says the government is deliberately trying to be insensitive towards the minority-dominated district of Mewat.

"This was evident when they announced the change of the name of the district along with that of Gurgaon. While Gurgaon was renamed Gurugram, Mewat was renamed Nuh. What was the need for doing this? Secondly, after the Dadri beef lynching incident of last year, the government should ideally have been very cautious on this sensitive issue of beef. But this has not been the case. It should try to make justice visible for the common people, but there is no step in that direction. Instead it is indulging in acts that defy basic logic. What is happening is very wrong," Singh says.

Political reactions

Aftab Ahmed, a former MLA and leader of the Muslim community in Haryana, underlines that the trouble is being fomented keeping in view the forthcoming Eid.

"It was jut ahead of Eid-ul-Adha last year that Khattar had come up with the controversial statement calling for an end to sacrifice of animals on the festival. This time they are indulging in biryani sampling," he says, adding that the government is trying to appease its ideological master, the RSS, by targeting the Muslims.

"They have always tried to target Mewat. For example, mining is carried out everywhere illegally, but when cases in Mewat come to light, they are presented more prominently. The population is economically deprived here. By indulging in the BJP brand of politics, the government wants to instil guilt and inferiority complex among the Muslim population. By carrying out such acts, it is also trying to divert its failures on all the other fronts."

Congress leader Randeep Surjewala feels that bovine politics reflect a sinister conspiracy to target and persecute people of one religious denomination. "The agenda is to polarise and divide the people on religious lines," he says, while pointing that Mewatis are the people who refused to migrate to Pakistan at the time of partition following appeals made to them by Jawahar Lal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi. There have been no communal incidents ever in the area.

What about authorisation?

Social organization ANHAD has raised a series of questions over the media reports on the samples collected from Mewat as having tested positive.

It has sought information on which laboratory in the LLRU has carried out the tests, and whether the laboratory has been accredited or recognised by the state government under The Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act 2015.

It has also asked whether the report given by the laboratory is valid for vetro-legal purposes, and in which department of the LLRU the laboratory is located and whether the head of that department has been informed about the findings.

According to ANHAD, the answer to all the above questions is no.

The organisation has also stated that as a matter of fact, no authority in the university has been designated to ensure that the sampling and labelling of samples is done in a proper manner, in matters involving species differentiation, and no permission of the state government has been taken before giving press statements.

It has raised question about who is the officer responsible for the genuineness of the results, in the event of any untoward event occurring after publishing of such news.

Former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has pointed out that the state government would be solely responsible if there is any trouble over the issue of collection of biryani samples and reports about them testing positive.

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 10 September 2016, 12:42 IST