In a meeting which I attended recently, a senior retired Air Force officer talked about the protest of the writers as a ray of hope in an otherwise bleak landscape. He was referring to writers returning their awards in protest against Mohammad Akhlaq's lynching in Dadri.
That hope has been belied. Two more incidents with extreme right-wing formations killing Muslim youth in cow related incidents have occurred, even after the furore over Aklaq's death. Panchajanya, the RSS mouthpiece, and the Chief Minister of Haryana, ML Khattar, both have justified Aklaq's murder. Panchajanya has quoted, or more correctly, misquoted the Vedas to justify the Akhalaq's murder, claiming that he had killed a cow. Khattar repeated Mahesh Sharma, the Minister of State for Culture on the Dadri killing, calling the murder “an accident”. He also proceeded to suggest, “if they want to stay Muslims, they will have to stop eating beef”. Clearly, there is an unsaid “or else” after it.
Why is cow made the major symbol of a campaign on hurt sentiment? The answer is quite simple. The primary agenda in any campaign in the Hindutva camp is for creating “the other” as a hate object. It is not that the cow is sacred to “us” that is important; but it is sacred to “us” and the Muslims eat it. This makes the Muslims “our” enemy.
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