Editorial Notes

Crackdown on India's illegal abattoirs has snowballed into 'vegan terror': The Statesman

In this photograph taken on March 25, 2017, Indian workers stand inside an empty abattoir in Meerut.
In this photograph taken on March 25, 2017, Indian workers stand inside an empty abattoir in Meerut.PHOTO: AFP

In its editorial on April 11, the paper argues that recent action to enforce the ban on cow slaughter in India has developed into a thinly veiled assault on non-vegetarian religious minorities.

What started as a legitimate campaign against illegal abattoirs has snowballed into a unique brand of radicalism - a politically-triggered assault against those who favour a non-vegetarian diet.

Ostensibly the thrust of the "drive" is to protect the cow, enforce the ban on its slaughter, but in reality the target has been the predominantly Muslim-dominated trade in meat - of most varieties.

It is no coincidence that the radicalistation of "vegan activists" began with the selection of a Hindutva votary as chief minister of politically significant Uttar Pradesh, for the state government has made less-than-token efforts at putting an end to the strike by the traders: essentially their effort to protect life and property from attack by those who have taken the law into their own hands with the tacit endorsement of those legally mandated to maintain law-and-order.

There is nothing accidental about the failure of New Delhi and Lucknow to try and curb the activities of "vigilantes" who have spread their activities virtually all across the "heartland" (much of it being under Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rule), for it suits "saffron" political interests to subjugate the minorities - the attack on a church in Lucknow fits in with the overall sinister developments.

Two sets of "notices" from the higher judiciary on specific "angles" of the raging controversy have yet to have a remedial effect, the comparative silence in Parliament indicates that the Opposition is unlikely to try and contain the spread of the divisive cancer.

Strange that while the functioning of illegal and unhealthy slaughter houses has become such a major "issue" no queries are being raised about the sale of pork - no need to specify for which community consumption of that flesh is haram. And will municipal authorities in the affected states disclose their plans to modernise and cleanse slaughter houses? Their silence is as contrived as it is "loud".

Over the years a situation has been deliberately allowed to develop that dubs buffalo meat as "beef" - though the slaughter and sale of the former is authorised - even at the abattoir in Ghazipur in the Capital. Not surprising that eateries run by Muslims are targeted, and as events in Alwar confirm a Muslim dairy farmer was murdered by Gau Rakshaks (cow protectors) when transporting a milch-cow to his farm. Reports suggest that buffalo are not being traded at cattle fairs.

And there are not-so-stray reports of religious leaders declaring that meat-eaters have no place in India - a couple of steps beyond the demand for enforcing the ban on cow slaughter.

The commercial fall-out is a subject carefully avoided even though the impact on employment in several spheres is grave. All the result of a message being "telegraphed" - that a desi variety of vegan terror is acceptable.

The Statesman is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 22 news media entities.