October 06, 2015

India: Behind the politics of the Dadri tragedy (Archana Dalmia)

Mail Online India

Behind the politics of the Dadri tragedy

By Archana Dalmia

Published: 23:21 GMT, 5 October 2015

What country are we living in? What have we become? Who is responsible for bringing us to this pass? I ponder these questions as I read the horrific news about a 50-year-old Muslim man, who was dragged out of his house and killed for allegedly eating beef in a village in Dadri, barely one hour’s drive from the national capital.

Killed for supposedly eating beef? Did I hear that right? We have all heard of murders taking place on the issues of property, money, revenge and even love, but this was the first time India has seen and heard someone being killed over eating. Ridiculous!


Did 50-year-old Muhammad Akhlaq, who was killed by a mob, or his 22-year old son, who was severely injured in the attack and continues to be in a critical state even after two brain surgeries, ever dream that they - whose family had been living in the Bisara village in Dadri, UP for generations - would one day be killed over a rumour by the same people they called their neighbours?

When did the country become so toxic and intolerant?

22-year-old Mohammad Danish lies in a critical condition after a mob attacked his family in Dadri, UP

The government should understand that when politicians come out with statements like - “Those who want to eat beef can go to Pakistan” - the message that is being sent out to the simple-minded, uneducated common man in the village is that beef-eaters are bad people and traitors, and if they are being asked to go to a country that we have hostile relations with, then maybe they are the enemy themselves. And by that logic, enemies can and should be killed!

Here is the extremist’s train of thought. The cow is our mother. It is sacred. It cannot be killed by Muslims. It cannot be eaten by Muslims. Those who eat beef are not Hindus and are disrespecting the Hindu culture and tradition. Ban cow slaughter. Ban the eating of beef. Kill those who are disrespecting our religion. Kill those who eat beef. The message is loud and clear.

Union Minister of Culture Mahesh Sharma has said that the Dadri murder was an “unfortunate accident” and the government will see that those who have been “wrongly arrested are given justice.”

However, such words are not strong enough and could send the wrong signals to the perpetrators of this heinous crime that they will get off lightly. This is clearly a message that no government – state or Centre – would want to give.

But the most ridiculous thing is the UP Police confiscating the meat that was lying in the refrigerator of the dead man and sending it for forensic testing to determine if it was beef or goat meat. What does that mean? Does it mean that if the meat is found to be indeed beef, then the killing was in order? Does it mean that a murder case will only be made against those arrested if it is discovered that it was not beef but goat meat?

This action by the UP police met with outrage and ridicule on the social networking site Twitter, where concerned citizens posted messages like – “They have taken samples of the meat for forensic testing. How does it matter if it was mutton or beef? Did a man have to die over it?”

“The worst thing about that mob lynching of a family is that police sent the meat for checking if it's beef. That is state complicity in crime.”

“Point isn’t that one was killed on “mere rumour” he ate beef. So what if he actually ate beef? Stone him to death? Then we laugh at Saudis.”

“Head hangs in shame my country. Dadri, a daughter asks if it’s not beef, will they bring back my dead father?”

UP is a state infamous for its lawlessness, but after this incident the UP government and the UP police should both hang their heads in shame for not being able to prevent a tragedy like this from happening - and subsequently dragging their feet on the investigations by confusing the entire matter by sending the meat for testing.


Akhilesh Yadav, the UP chief minister, should ensure such barbaric incidents are never allowed to happen again in his state, even if he believes that the some political parties are trying to polarise the state ahead of the 2017 assembly elections.

He should realise that thrones cannot be, and should not be allowed to be made over the dead bodies of innocents.

In Dadri, a man has died due to unfounded rumours - but politicians, instead of showing empathy with the dead man’s family and consoling the heart-broken and shell-shocked family members - have started playing politics over his death.

While one politician claims the death was an accident and not pre-planned, the other says that a Muslim family has been targeted in a pre-planned and cold-blooded way to create a divide and tension between two communities.

The party in governance in the state says this was a motivated plan to discredit it and to create strife and tension in the state. They have also blamed other parties of trying to polarise UP as they want to reap the benefits of the divide and rule strategy in the upcoming assembly elections.

In the meantime, another politician, who is the chief minister of the national capital, wants to portray the image of a man unjustly wronged because he was ostensibly not allowed to enter the Bisara village by the police and the area administration.

Everyone wants to make political capital out of a horrific incident, highly reminiscent of a satirical Bollywood film, Peepli Live.

As I sit writing this in a state of emotional upheaval, I can’t help but think about the prophetic lines of the Spanish philosopher, poet and novelist, George Santayana, who said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” God forbid!

The writer is a Mail Today columnist. The views expressed are personal

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-3260984/Behind-politics-Dadri-tragedy.html#ixzz3np1uF1YV
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