Governments of two states that have legislated against the consumption of beef are once again calling attention to the issue on the eve of Eid-ul-Zuha or Bakrid.
Events in Haryana
The Haryana Gau Sewa Aayog has asked the state police to collect samples of biryani from Mewat and send them for testing.Haryana has specifically targeted biryani, a dish traditionally connected with the Muslim festival;
Events in Maharashtra
And following the rather belated but strong warning of the prime minister against vigilantism on behalf of cattle, Maharashtra has made it clear that private raiding parties will not be tolerated. Only the police are empowered to investigate charges of cows being butchered or transported.
Highlights biasness of State
These moves may well be valid in law, but they unfortunately suggest that the state is bent on taking the joy out of the festival of one community. The threat of cow patrols invading private spaces to poke about in pots and pans does not set the mood for festivities.
Questions on unnecessary vigilantism?
When the police are already charged with the duty to move against those who break the beef laws, why was a cadre of snitches raised from the public deemed necessary?
While Maharashtra appears to be proscribing public action now by warning against vigilantism, its record on illiberalism invites the suspicion that it is actually no different in attitude and intent from Haryana, which is pro-actively sending out biryani patrols to probe and pry.
If laws relating to beef must exist at all — and it is not blindingly obvious to the entire population that they must — then the police alone must have the mandate to enforce them, and certainly not as a blunt instrument against a particular community. This time, the festival of Eid has drawn the unhealthy attentions of two state governments to this trumped-up issue. Of course, other communities, including the historically disadvantaged and those located outside the geography of the mainstream, have traditionally used beef as a major source of protein. They have reason to wonder what the future holds for them.