Why is Haryana getting away with biryani policing?

A communal trend is rising in the country and it shows the emboldenment of the Right-wing forces that are undermining rule of law.

 |  4-minute read |   07-09-2016
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Respected Rajnath Singh,

I would like to draw the urgent and immediate attention of the home ministry (and the National Commission for Minorities)) towards a set of actions in Haryana violative of various provisions of the Indian Constitution.

The state Gau Sewa Ayog (cow service commission) has tasked the Haryana police in the Muslim-dominated Mewat district with collecting samples of biryani from street vendors to test the meat used. After Mewat, the exercise will be carried out in other districts as well. The sampling comes just ahead of Bakri Eid, which falls later this month.

Chief of Gau Sewa Ayog, along with Bharti Arora, the deputy inspector general in-charge of Haryana's special task force to check cow smuggling and slaughter, and Mewat senior superintendent of police Kuldeep Singh, met locals to discuss the issue. Arora has said, on record, that the police had already started collecting samples.

rajnath-pti_0_0_090716024432.jpg Home minister Rajnath Singh. (Photo credit: PTI)

Sir, Mohammad Akhlaq was killed in Dadri by a group of persons over a"beef" rumour, and some of the accused were related to a local BJP leader. This was followed by the murder of Jammu and Kashmir trucker Zahid, the lynching of two people in Latehar, Jharkhand, the murder of Noman in Himachal Pradesh, the harassment of Muslim women in Madhya Pradesh and the public flogging of Dalits in Una, Gujarat by Gau rakshak gangs.

Many such incidents of cow vigilantism are reported (and most go unreported) in the press and most of them are targeted against minorities and Dalits in an attempt to terrorise them in the name of the cow. A communal trend is rising in the country and it shows the emboldenment of the Right-wing forces that are undermining rule of law. What is worse is the legitimacy and support provided to such vigilante groups by certain state governments and their law-enforcement machinery.

This move is a clear assault on the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India under articles 14,19,21 and 25. It is incompatible with the secular ideal enshrined in the Constitution and imbibed in the polity of our diverse, plural and multi-cultural society.

Can the Haryana police be allowed to target Muslims just before Eid, surreptitiously through such "Biryani policing"? Why are other restaurants not being included in this sampling throughout the year? Does it not show the communal agenda of the Haryana Gau Sewa Aayog and the Haryana Police?

Is it not a flagrant violation of the right to equality granted to Muslims under Article 14, the right to freedom of religion under Article 25, the right to life under Article 21 and the right to carry out a legal trade/profession without the state interfering or creating hindrances under Article 19? Will this move not give rise to extortion and vigilantism against Muslims in Haryana?

Will it not create a sense of terror and fear among minorities?

The communal statements made by Haryana CM Khattar on the very same issue of beef consumption and by several top leaders of the ruling BJP shows that there is active connivance and backing of the state government in this unconstitutional move.

In a state that has suffered riots (Jat quota stir), rising atrocities against Dalits (burning of two Dalit children is still fresh in our minds), communal attacks against minorities (Ballabhgarh riots), female infanticide and frequent attacks on women, it is ridiculous that the Haryana Police believes its priority should be "Biryani policing"!

As per NCRB data, Haryana comes second after Uttar Pradesh when it comes to the number of police complaints filed. Haryana has been recording more than 67cases per day against women, according to data tabled in the Assembly. The news of a 21-year-old Dalit student in Rohtak being raped twice by the same accused gripped the entire nation in shock. Recently, there was a twin murder case and gangrape in Mewat on which the police has failed to act strongly. NCRB data shows that crimes against SCs in Haryana increased from 493 in 2013 to 830 in 2014.

Given the alarming situation, should the priority of the Haryana police and government be to decide people's food menu, to indulge in "Biryani policing", to support cow vigilantes or to police and govern?

In the wake of these circumstances, I request you Sir, with utmost humility, to:

a) Direct the Haryana government and Haryana police to call off this unconstitutional "Biryani policing" aimed at terrorising minorities before Eid as it is unconstitutional.

b) Direct the central government and ministry of home affairs to take cognisance of such communal agendas being given state sanction by various state governments and ensure they run the state in accordance with the Constitution.

c) Issue an advisory to all state governments including Haryana to disallow using cow protection as a tool to intimidate and terrorise the minorities and the Dalits. I hope you will take up this serious issue with chief minister Khattar.

Also read - There's pleasure in biting into meat; but can you deny the violence?

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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