Maharashtra's meat detection kits shows rot in BJP's beef politics

Is it law enforcement or just another regulation that has cow appeasement written all over it?

 |  5-minute read |   07-07-2017
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have condemned violence in the name of cow protection, but that doesn’t change realities for the ordinary Indian citizen. Cases of mob violence as well as lynching continue to be reported and the Centre has done nothing to stop them.

In Maharashtra, a BJP-led state, the police will soon get cow meat detection kits, according a report in DNA. The portable kits will supposedly help identify whether the meat seized is cow or buffalo meat.

The report mentions that this move is meant to take the load off of the state’s forensic labs, as at present, they receive more than 100 samples of meat for testing every day. These kits are set to be rolled out as early as this month, with 45 mobile forensic support vehicles deployed across Maharashtra, in 36 district police headquarters and nine police commisionerates. The DNA report also reports that authorities suggest the kits are likely to help defuse communally-incensed situations.

"Prima facie, the meat of bullocks and buffaloes may seem alike. However, their protein pattern is different and can be identified by an ELISA test," explained KV Kulkarni, director, Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratory. These kits that cost around Rs 8,000 each can generate results in half an hour.

"The ELISA test will identify the proteins in cow meat and help dispose off many samples on the spot. Those testing positive in the screening will be sent to our laboratories for confirmation through DNA testing," added Kulkarni.

And that makes sense on paper, because evidently, much of the violence over beef erupts on the basis of suspicion. A quick test to reveal if the meat is cow should be an ideal solution to hours of lab-work and mindless cow violence, right?

cowrensic_070717040325.jpgPhoto: DailyO

If only it was just a case as simple as law and order. 

According to a study by IndiaSpend, about 86 per cent of the deaths from hate crime such as lynchings, committed over the past seven years have been of Muslims, while 97 per cent of the incidents have happened since Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.

Muslims were the target of 51 per cent of violence centred on bovine issues over nearly eight years (2010 to 2017) and comprised 86 per cent of 28 Indians killed in 63 incidents.

In fact, as many of 97 per cent of these attacks were reported after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came to power in May 2014, and about half the cow-related violence – 32 of 63 cases – were from states governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The violence perpetrated in the name of cows, it would seem, has little to do with cows and more to do with religious and casteist bigotry.

Another data study by ORF finds that from a "very low share of less than 5 per cent, cow related violence has been rising sharply as a percentage of the total, reaching over 20 per cent by the end of June 2017".

In addition to the cow-related violence, that has a visible communal aspect to it, one can also observe the emergence of what is best termed cow bureaucracy. It was recently reported that seven out of eight independent board members appointed by the Animal Welfare Board were associated with cow research and cow shelters, including several who have been vocal about cow protection.

Rather than stopping cow vigilante groups from amplifying the culture of violence witnessed by India, the Maharashtra government seems to be putting in more efforts into pacifying hardliners by handing out cow meat testing kits. 

So, it begs asking now more than ever: is this beef testing kit really a measure for making work easier for law enforcement officials, or is it just another regulation that has cow appeasement written all over it? 

As the eloquent Congress MP Shashi Tharoor puts it, beef detection kits are an “awful case of misplaced priorities". 

There, we said it too.

Also read: Not In My Name: There's no shame in refusing to remain silent

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