How the BJP and Khattar government stole my Eid

Isn't biryani policing aimed at one community? It has forced poor Muslim vendors to shut shop and lose their livelihood just before the festival.

 |  6-minute read |   12-09-2016
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We all know 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas', but what most of us missed out on, thanks to a pro-establishment media, overly self-conscious civil society and lazy, opportunistic political class was 'How the BJP and Manohar Lal Khattar government in Haryana stole Bakra Eid' or Eid-ul-Adha, which will be celebrated on September 13 this year. 

While Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramzaan, during which Muslims fast, and is a "feast of breaking the fast" , Eid-ul-Adha, which commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his only son in obedience to a command from Allah, marks the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage and is considered the holier of the two.

Each year, crores of Muslims in India and across the globe look forward to this festival, much like Hindus look forward to Diwali or Christians look forward to Christmas. 

But this year, the BJP-run Haryana government decided - contrary to its empty slogan of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and in contravention of the various impotent guarantees of equality before law and freedom of religion within the Constitution, bestowed upon every citizen of this country - that it would steal away this little moment of joy and income from its minority Muslim populace, which continues to be subjected to religious-based violence, discrimination and second-class treatment in their own homeland.

It succeeded in sending out a loud and clear message to all minorities in general and Indian Muslims in particular, that there is no space for them in its narrow Idea of India, that they have no rights - economic, legal or political - and that there is no recourse against the majoritarian bullying they will indulge in, often in connivance with the various institutions of democracy, including the self-serving media, barring a few exceptions of journalists such as Ravish Kumar or Rajdeep Sardesai. 

First, there was the shocking case of a double murder and gangrape of two women in Muslim-majority Mewat during the end of August, just days before Eid. One of the victims claimed that the attackers told her they were being punished for eating beef.

Where was the national outrage which TV channels and the political class exhibited when a rape in Bulandshahr or Delhi took place? Is every one silent because one of the accused allegedly happens to be associated with the Sangh Parivar and another one is a Muslim-hating Bhakt, as some news reports say?

Are rapes of Muslim women okay and not that big a deal? Are rapes by those allegedly affiliated with the ideology of the Sangh to be treated as Nationalist Rapes?

Where are those Bhakts who keep shouting Bharat Mata Ki Jai, when a Bharat ki Mata and Beti were getting raped, allegedly by those who utter such impotent slogans for mere lip service?

Is it justified, like Mohammad Akhlaq's killing was, because there was a mere rumour that beef was consumed? Manav Hatya (or rape) is legitimate if there is a rumour about Gau Hatya? 

And the Haryana Police, it is reported, is busy trying to distance cow vigilante groups/Gau Raksha Dals from the alleged attackers. Is their loyalty and duty towards the rape survivor or towards the ideological benefactors of their political masters?

If that was not enough to create a sense of fear, we find a new tactic being employed by the BJP to show Muslims in Haryana their place. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi was virtually forced to condemn gau rakshaks in the wake of the Una attack on Dalits and its visible political fall-out, the Haryana government decided to outsource cow vigilantism (from the men in khaki shorts) to the men in khaki uniforms!

goat-new-embed_091216010436.jpg Eid-ul-Adha commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his only son in obedience to a command from Allah.  

The Haryana Police, equipped with its dismal record in tackling crime against women, Dalits and minorities and preventing riots during the Jat quota stir, was tasked with the all important job of sniffing beef from biryani cooked for Eid in small street stalls!

I understand that cow slaughter, sale and storage of beef is a punishable offence in Haryana due to its latest legislations, according to which molesting a woman is a lesser offence than being in possession of beef! 

But is this biryani policing just before Eid not aimed at targeting one community? Isn't it incompatible with the concept of equality before law under Article 14? Have such raids been conducted on other establishments, especially big five-star hotels across Haryana and not just Mewat before other festivals throughout the year?

Why have Biryani, Eid and small stalls been singled out? Can five-star hotels not violate the law? Can the law not be violated at any point of time and not just before Eid? What about this BJP policy on beef being implemented in Goa where they are in power?

In Goa, the BJP chief minister openly opposes the beef ban - but he is a nationalist by virtue of being from the BJP and Muslims are anti-national on the basis of a suspicion. Is the animal not sacred for the BJP in Goa like it is in Haryana? And what about the rising exports of beef from India by the big exporters who are the ones driving Modi's "pink revolution"?

Why not target them too? Vested interests? If there are illegal cattle-traders in Mewat or any part of Haryana, use extra police force to bust those gangs; why harass innocent, poor folks just trying to earn a basic living before Eid?  

Then to add to the tension, news reports are planted that some of the samples picked up by the Haryana Police did contain beef and while nobody knows the authenticity of these reports, it is enough to force the poor Muslim vendors to shut shop just before Eid.

After all, between being lynched by cow vigilantes and being raided and extorted of money by state-sponsored cow vigilantes aka the Haryana Police, the Muslim vendors would much rather sacrifice their only source of earning a meagre Rs 200-300 than be jailed for ten years! 

A few days ago, I used this platform to write about the blatant violation of constitutional rights of Muslims in Haryana and appealed to the National Minorities Commission, the media and Union home minister Rajnath Singh to intervene and defend those rights.

After all it is their statutory, constitutional and moral responsibility to do so. But they have chosen not to. None of the major political parties have taken a stand. I was the only one to move a legal petition but I was unsuccessful in getting anybody in the government to take notice.

Eid-ul-Adha is known as the festival of sacrifice. In solidarity with my brothers and sisters in Haryana who are being forced by the BJP to sacrifice their income and celebrations, I too will be sacrificing my Eid. I have no reason to celebrate this festival anymore.

Not until my fellow citizens in Haryana can enjoy their full constitutional rights as envisaged by the Constitution.

Thank you Mr Khattar and Mr Modi for stealing our Eid.

Also read: Gau rakshaks, the new bull of Hindu fundamentalists

Also read: India should be ashamed of charging Akhlaq's family with 'cow slaughter'

Writer

Shehzad Poonawalla Shehzad Poonawalla @shehzad_ind

Formerly served with ministry of parliamentary affairs, Govt of India. He is a lawyer, civil rights activist and a Congress party supporter. Views are personal.

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