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Meat ban may cast shadow over Eid-ul-Azha festivities

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New Delhi: With hundreds of families across the country preparing Eid-ul-Azha in the last week of September, the ban on sale of meat, including beef, has come as a huge setback for the traders who were expecting a good business during the festive season.

credit: www.thanhniennews.com
credit: www.thanhniennews.com

Akbar Qureshi, a meat trader in the Mankhurd area of Mumbai, is a worried man since the ban on beef came into force in Maharashtra in March this year under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995. Since then, he has been able to sell very little buffalo meat and is in danger of running out of customers.

“People don’t eat buffalo meat that much. I would earlier sell some 100 kilograms of beef daily, but now I hardly sell 40 kilograms of buffalo meat,” he said.

Akbar is just one among hundreds of traders, dealers and suppliers whose business has been severely affected by the beef ban in the state.

While Maharashtra and Haryana had banned beef earlier, many other states including Gujarat and Chhattisgarh and cities like Mumbai and its suburbs have recently introduced temporary bans on sale and possession of meat for varying number of days in respect of ‘Paryushana’, a Jain fasting season.

The ban on beef comes even as India has emerged as the world’s top exporter of beef since last year. As per data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in April this year, India has doubled its beef export from 1.26 million tonnes in 2011-12 to 2.40 million tonnes in 2014-15.

Beef ban means no exports either. Anwar Khan owns Al-Saba exports, a meat exporting company in Mumbai. He is facing huge losses.

“My monthly turnover was around Rs. 2.5 crore. But now I have lost everything and had to fire over 100 employees,” said Khan. “We are running short of buffaloes here, due to which it is impossible to do business,” he added.

Jammu and Kashmir became the latest addition to this list when the state High Court directed the authorities on September 10 to strictly enforce a 150-year-old erstwhile Dogra-rule-era provision of ban on sale and distribution of beef in the state.

Shabir Ahmad, along with his family, has domesticated a bullock to sacrifice this Eid. He is worried about being able to do that due to the ban.

“I would graze the bullock for hours after my day work and would give fodder to keep him in good health,” Shabir said.

Beef is particularly useful since it is cheap and hence bull or bullocks are preferred by many rural families over sheep or goat for the animal sacrifice during the Eid-ul-Azha. Moreover, in religious convention, while a goat or sheep qualifies a single person for the sacrificial obligations, a bovine animal qualifies seven people.

“I can’t afford a separate sheep or goat individually for every family member,” Ahmad added.

Given the religious implications of the ban, the decision has invited harsh criticism from not only the ordinary Kashmiris but also religious bodies. Jamaat-e-Islami, one of the largest such bodies in the Valley, has termed the decision as totally ‘unacceptable’.

G.M. Bhat, Ameer of the Jamaat, said, “It is absolutely not possible to convince the Muslim community to go against their own religion; so we oppose it.”

To protest against the ban, the Valley also observed a two-day strike on the call given by the Hurriyat led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani. He termed the court’s decision as interference in religious affairs.

Geelani said, “If India boasts of being a secular country, then everyone has a right to practice one’s religion. However, this controversial decision has taken away the freedom of the Muslims only.”

Meanwhile, meat suppliers in the region are now worried about losing their business as the festival season approaches.

Manzoor Ahmad, Anantnag-based supplier, had sold thousands of animals on Eid last year. This year he is looking at a gloomy business scenario.

“Last year, I supplied many animals before the Eid-ul-Azha. If this ban remains, dealers and suppliers will have to face huge business losses,” said Ahmad.

Cow is a revered animal for many in the Hindu community, and therefore its slaughter is considered unacceptable by them. Prohibition of cow slaughter is mentioned as one of the Directive Principles of State Policy under Article 48 of the Indian Constitution. The issue, though, has remained largely dormant till recently.

However, recent moves by the BJP-ruled states like Maharashtra and Haryana to cover all bovine animals in the anti-slaughter law and steps by several others to impose temporary meat bans are seen as powerful indicators of the growing influence of the right-wing Hindu organisations since the Narendra Modi government assumed power last year.

(Aijaz Nazir, IANS)

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All you Need to Know About the Protests in India Over Citizenship Law

India's Citizenship Law Leading to Rise in Hate Crimes, Experts Warn

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Citizenship law
A demonstrator attends a protest against riots following clashes between people demonstrating for and against a new citizenship law in New Delhi. VOA

By Niala Mohammad

Protests in India over the Citizenship Amendment Act, a law Muslims claim discriminates against them, led to violent sectarian clashes in Delhi last week, killing dozens of Muslims and Hindus. This is a breaking news.

Experts warn the controversial law, passed by India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in December 2019, is taking India to a point of no return, marked by a major shift away from the country’s secular and religiously tolerant system. The bill could further widen the gap between Hindus and minority Muslims in the country, leading to a dangerous escalation in communal violence, they said.

“The CAA has fostered both pro and anti-CAA protests, with the state and the ruling party offering a measure of support in favor of the former. The atmosphere in Delhi, which has seen sustained protests for weeks, has become exceptionally polarized on religious grounds,” Milan Vaishnav, an India expert at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told VOA.

Vaishnav said the Muslim population in India has felt increasingly marginalized over the years as the country’s political landscape was overrun by Hindutva, a hard-line Hindu ideology fostered by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Citizenship law
Supporters of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party shout slogans during a rally in support of a new citizenship law, in Kolkata, India. VOA

“Hindutva is, quite literally, ‘Hindu-ness.’ It is shorthand for the BJP’s Hindu nationalist agenda in that the party is premised on the notion that India is culturally a Hindu nation,” Vaishnav said.

There are an estimated 200 million Muslims in India. Considered a minority community, Muslims say the December citizenship law targets them by granting citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from neighboring countries.

The CAA law gives fast-tracked citizenship to undocumented migrants from the “Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian communities from neighboring Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31st day of December, 2014,” the law states. Indian officials say Muslim immigrants are excluded from the law because they constitute a majority in all the countries listed in the CAA.

Clashes between Hindu mobs chanting “Jai Shri Ram” (Hail Lord Ram) and mostly Muslim anti-CAA protesters left at least 46 people dead. Hundreds more were injured during the fighting as schools, businesses, properties and places of worship were torched.

Deadly riots

Babbu, a Muslim auto driver, was one of the 46 victims of the riots. His brother Pappu told VOA that Babbu was out working when a Hindu mob surrounded his rickshaw.

Citizenship law
All India Youth League activists burn an effigy of Indian Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah during a protest against India’s new citizenship law and Shah’s presence at a political rally in Kolkata. VOA

“I got a call from someone telling me that they saw my brother being beaten by a mob. When I reached to where he was, I found him lying on a cart severely injured. I rushed him to the hospital. He died this morning,” Pappu told VOA.

Videos and images of mosques being vandalized and Muslims being beaten by Hindu mobs have circulated on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, causing international concerns about the safety of Muslims in India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week called for calm, urging both sides to end days of violent clashes.

“Peace and harmony are central to our ethos. I appeal to my sisters and brothers of Delhi to maintain peace and brotherhood at all times. It is important that there calm and normalcy is restored at the earliest,” Modi said in a tweet responding to riots in the capital city of more than 18 million people.

However, the opposition party, Indian National Congress, is holding the BJP responsible for the violence, and has called on Home Minister Amit Shah to resign for instigating sectarian divide in India.

“There is a conspiracy behind the violence; [the] country also saw this during Delhi elections. Many BJP leaders made inciting comments creating an atmosphere of fear and hatred,” opposition leader Sonia Gandhi said, speaking of February local legislative election in Delhi in which the BJP suffered a major loss to Aam Aadmi Party.

Muqtedar Khan, a professor of Islamic political philosophy at the University of Delaware and India expert at the Center for Global Policy, told VOA that policies endorsed by the current government are seen by many Indians as divisive and destructive to centuries-old communal bonds in the country.

“This has been an extremely egregious and atrocious display of communal politics from police and leaders. And it has put the fear of God in the Muslim minority. … They are living in terror,” Khan said. He added the Hindutva movement was comparable to radical Islamic movements that want to establish their own state with Sharia laws.

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Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest against a new citizenship law, in Ahmedabad, India. VOA

Hindutva

The term Hindutva, or the essence of Hinduism, was coined in the 1920s by Hindu nationalist Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and adopted by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). RSS is a hard-line Hindu organization closely affiliated with Modi and the BJP.

“RSS is not like ISIS and the BJP is certainly not like al-Qaida. They may be like the Muslim Brotherhood or the Freedom and Justice Party [in Egypt].” Khan told VOA, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

He warned that further isolation of the Muslim minority could be exploited by jihadist groups like IS to recruit members of the community.

Last week, pro-IS outlet al-Qitaal Media Center reportedly launched a publication titled “Voice of Hind,” calling on Indian Muslims to join the group. The publication said there was no place for nationalism in Islam and that Indian Muslims had to join “the caliphate” in response to the violence again them.

Abhijit Iyer Mitra, a senior analyst at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in New Delhi, the outbreak of the Hindu-Muslim violence cannot be exclusively blamed on the CAA law. He stated the Indian government over the years has introduced several social reforms seen by Muslims as targeting their religious practices.

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“In addition to the salience of Hindutva, the BJP’s agenda has also been to sharpen substance through progressive social legislation,” Mitra said.

Indian Muslims have protested several decisions by the BJP government, including the cattle purchase and sale ban, Muslim instant divorce or “triple talaq” ban, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), and the revoking of article 370 in Kashmir coupled with an internet shutdown in the region. (VOA)