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The Lynching Of Mohammad Akhlaq And The Undoing Of The Idea Of India

By Suhail Qasim Mir

01 October, 2015

Photograph of 50-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq (Express photo by Gajendra Yadav)

The lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq (50) and brutally beating up his son, Danish (22) by a mob in Dadri, UP for allegedly consuming and storing beef marks the travesty of the democratic and non-violent credentials of India. The culture of tolerance and secularism, which India is boastful about, seems to be misplaced. When endeavours are being made all over the world to embark new journeys towards peace and reconciliation, India seems to be moving back into history. Imposing ideals from a mythic past, which are objectionable to a large section of the population, seems to be the course thatIndia has chosen.

India celebrates itself as the world’s largest democracy and takes pride in having the longest written constitution. And it is this constitution which provides the right to freedom of religion to its citizens. However despite its secular Constitution, India remains strikingly unequal. The recent beef bans and the violence surrounding this issue is an eloquent testimony. The state in a democratic set up can’t force and tell the individuals what to eat and what not to. The right to choose between the things is the essence of democracy. In every sense of the word there is actually an attempt to uphold one single Hindu culture defined by hindutva ideology by subduing every other culture. Ban on the beef, the consumption of which is an intrinsic part of the indigenous food culture of Dalits and Muslims, is a clear manifestation of Brahminical food fascism.The forced majoritarianism will go a long way in polarising the society and leave it for manipulation by few ogres to serve their vested interests.

For some petty political brownie points, politicians in India are busy dividing people along religious lines and ironically people get divided because most of the population in India due to illiteracy or low education can’t make a difference between right and wrong. So masses are not to be blamed. There is somebody else fanning the communal fires and helming India towards a horrible annihilation. Though beef ban has been a contentious issue in India since times immemorial but it is only with the change of the guard at centre that the issue has surfaced again. The RSS and other fringe groups with their anti-Muslim ideology remain undeterred because they remain unbridled, in fact they ironically derive their strength from the present government which itself is founded upon the Hindutva bedrock.

The promulgated beef ban across several states of India is not just about weaning the choice of people about what to eat and what not to, but, essentially undermining all those people who don’t affiliate to the Hinduva ideology. Nobody in India talks about prohibition of liquor and other intoxicating substances when the constitution in the Article 48 openly advocates for prohibition of such substances. Why? Because the mainstream Hindu culture doesn’t oppose it and banning it would mean a loss of huge electorate. So everything is meticulously calculated, religion is manipulated for political interests and so fissures are created in the society.

India is marked by a myriad diversity; people here are divided along the lines of cast, religion, region, language, ethnicity and gender. Each group has its own culture and a way of life and thus forcing one major culture and expecting everybody to abstain from beef eating and cow slaughter just because some groups don't do it is bound to create a feeling of oppression and alienation. And it is in this context when these groups develop anti national feelings and turn outlaws.

Obscure groups such as Viswa Hindu Parishat (VHP) are trying to impose a culture often through violent means, infringing upon the fundamental rights and seeking to subdue the diversity of India. It is essential for pseudo nationalists and the Hindutva fringe groups to realise that only by taking every community on-board can India stay in one piece. What essentially is required is the utmost need for reconcilement and accommodation.

Suhail Qasim Mir, Alumni, Jamia Millia Islamia Email: [email protected]

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