The Return of Holy Cow!
By Mubasshir Mushtaq
At what point did in Indian history cow become holy to Hindus? The question is obviously rhetorical but needs an honest deliberation. The cow has never been sacred to all Hindus. The view that cow is sacred is merely a sectional Hindu view. It has been a matter of inter-religious debate for decades but one thing is certain: cow slaughter and beef-eating are proven Hindu traditions. Beef used to be served as honour to guests in ancient India. Therefore, the cow became holy at a much later period as part of Hinduism reforms. In traditional or ancient Hinduism, cow has never been sacred.
The month of July can be rightly described as the month of holy cow! It has returned to haunt us in more than one way: Malegaon-Manmad-road cow row was just a flashpoint. The holy cow made a quiet entry from down South in Karnataka assembly. The controversial Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Prevention of Cattle Bill, 2010 was passed in the legislative council on July 15 amid protests by the opposition. If the bill becomes a law, it will affect eating habits of many communities, sportspersons, animals in the zoo etc.
The holy cow entered Maharashtra on July 21. We do not know the exact entry point but the holy cow did a road-show on the outskirts of Malegaon before landing in Mantrayla on July 22!
Why did the Opposition protest the passing of the bill in Karnataka assembly? Does the opposition consists of only Muslims?
The sacredness of cow is not a Hindu-Muslim question alone as it has been persistently made out in the media. Karnataka opposition was representing millions of Hindus who still eat beef. Dalits and tribals have always eaten beef as part of ancient Hinduism. A ban in would mean imposition on hundreds of millions of Dalits and tribals. Also, beef is eaten regularly in India’s North-East.
The “Malegaon cow slaughter”, as the mainstream media reported, never took place. Ignorance, as we say in journalism, is bliss. The phrase “Malegaon cow slaughter” is a misnomer. First, the incident did not take place in Malegaon town; eight cows were found dead on Malegaon-Manmad road. By highlighting the word ‘Malegaon’ with the cows, media is playing in the hands of communalists; they want to defame a peace-loving town which did not lose its cool after witnessing two deadly bomb blasts. Media must remember that Malegaon is not a slaughterhouse of all goodness! The word ‘Malegaon’ immediately creates a sensation. Anything sensational in media sells these days.
Second, there was no ‘slaughter’ of the cows; eight cows died because of suffocation and the post-mortem report confirms this. There was no trace of injury or cuts on the body. But not all are convinced. Miscreants belonging to Hindutva brigade are spreading a lie with the help of some pictures. Any sane man would know that body needs to be cut in order to perform autopsy. Veterinary surgeon performed autopsy of the cows. The pictures of cuts borne by the vet’s knife are being circulated over the internet. It is being claimed that cows were indeed ‘slaughtered’! (Hindu Jan Jagruti Samiti is one such website; it puts the number of “slaughtered cows” to 25!) These pictures serve as the propaganda weapon for the right-wing brigade which is consistently becoming violent. Some of the Muslims might interpret the cow incident as part of a “conspiracy” to cause riot. The cow incident does not seem to be part of any conspiracy as of now; it seems more like a co-incidental accident. But people of Malegaon may have reasonable doubts which may or may not be valid. After all, one such ‘conspiracy’ has already taken place in Malegaon in 1984. A Hindu deity was garlanded with a bone-necklace by an RSS activist in order to cause riot. Malegaon could have witnessed a massive riot because the temple of the deity stood next to a mosque. It was the genius of S. M. Mushrif, the then ASP of Malegaon, who unearthed the mystery of bone-necklace and prevented Malegaon from communal frenzy.
The right-wingers are in a mood for mischief. Kesari Chand Mehta, president of Gau-Raksha Samiti spit venom against Muslims on July 22 while presenting a memorandum to the local administration. Muslims must maintain the traditional chain of peace culminated in the aftermath of 2006 and 2008 blasts.
Interestingly, opposition survived the day of July 22 on a lie. A lie can breathe transient life in the lungs of an almost dead opposition but the life of a lie is shorter than a hyphen.
Mother cow, on whose horns universe survives according to Hindu worldview, must be angry over the lie. A slight movement of the horns will send Sena-BJP alliance into deep ravine of eternity.