October 04, 2015

Beef with tolerance - Times of India Editorial

Beef with tolerance: BJP leaders must steer clear of schizophrenia when they comment on Akhlaque’s lynching

October 5, 2015, 12:02 am IST in TOI Editorials 

BJP leaders are speaking in two voices on the lynching of Mohammed Akhlaque in UP’s Bisada village, following suspicion that he consumed beef. While finance minister Arun Jaitley condemned the barbaric act, agriculture MoS Sanjeev Balyan took a different view of the matter on the same day. He described cow slaughter as the root cause of Hindu—Muslim conflict, which not only provides an alibi to Akhlaque’s murderers but also dials us back to dark post—Partition days when cow slaughter was a common ruse for large—scale rioting. Since it’s impossible to put an end to the suspicion of cow slaughter — or even the reality of it because lower castes among Hindus, apart from minorities, consume beef — Balyan is projecting, in effect, a future of unending medieval witch hunts and communal strife.
Meanwhile, culture minister Mahesh Sharma has jumped in and given another twist to the matter — it wasn’t a communal incident at all but an “accident”. In the strange inverted reality many of our leaders like to inhabit he proceeded to shoot the messenger. He blamed the media for fanning communal flames, following which journalists at the site found themselves under attack.
It’s high time we put an end to the commonly used “hurt sentiments” excuse for violence and murder. Millions of sentiments are being hurt across the country every day. If we respond to them with violence we will speedily descend into anarchy. If Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious development and modernisation programme is to succeed, witch hunts and flagrant contempt for the rule of law are not going to attract foreign — or even domestic — investors. A murder is a murder and political leaders should come together to condemn it unequivocally. Given that the PM tweets prolifically a tweet from him in this regard would help by clarifying the confusion sowed by his ministers.

This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.