Sectarian Agenda to the Fore

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Today, India is facing major challenges. All kinds of vigilantes are out into the open and unleashing their fury over anything that offends them. Akhlaq was killed on the suspicion of storing ‘beef’ in his fridge, and Pehlu Khan was killed on a highway even though he had papers to prove that the cattle he was transporting was meant for his dairy. Mobs lynched a Deputy Superintendent of Police near a Masjid in Srinagar on the suspicion of him preparing visual profiles of the congregants.
This is no good augury for the nation which has such a huge and humongously diverse populace. Moral policing, taking of law into one’s hands and bypassing the process of law have ominous portents for all of us. But vigilante groups seem to be in no mood to listen. But for the indirect encouragement, the vigilantes would not have felt so emboldened to trigger hateful campaigns and target the ones they presumed to be beef-eaters and promoters of ‘love-jihad’.
The Union Government’s new law i.e., Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 is behind much of the brutalities being witnessed in public life despite protestations of innocence by several ministers. It is a de facto ban on trade of cattle for slaughter with intention of deprivation of the livelihood of a section of people. That it would hit the agricultural economy is only a marginal issue. It is plain that the Union Government’s primary target are Muslims and is going whole hog to render their life miserable by hitting at their livelihood and economic interests. It is also likely to encourage social strife as people would be perceived in terms of ‘cow-protectors versus cow-killers’ and may pit them against each other. A society of multiple castes, faiths and languages can hardly afford these new fault lines. The sectarian agenda is being pushed to further polarize the people on religious lines, now that the Modi Government’s failure in boosting the national economy is becoming increasingly evident.
The farm economy too would take a big hit if the farmers simply let the economically non-beneficial animals to become ‘stray’. A large number of industries, both upstream and downstream, are dependent on animals either dead, alive, milch or draught or slaughtered. The Union Government should pay heed to the entire spectrum of issues emanating from the thoughtless legislation and abandon its intent of creating fissures in the social landscape of the nation.