Come Eid Ul Azha or Bakrid, Hindu Muslim communal tension starts building up in the country. The prime reason is; Muslims belief in sacrificing animals during this festival and some Hindu group recently have started opposing this tradition, leading to communal tension and dampening the spirit of festivity.
The practice of animal sacrifice is pre Islamic tradition. Most religions in the world have this tradition, including Hinduism. It’s incorporated into the Islamic belief system due to the virtue of making sacrifices. The practice of animal sacrifice marks the end of Haj pilgrimage of the Muslim holy sites in Saudi Arabia.
As an act of religious piety, every divot Muslim, who can afford, is supposed to make animal sacrifice. This tradition is going on since centuries in our country and there is little fuss being made about it. However, this is not the case in recent times everywhere. The delicate interfaith relationship is being tampered by some misguided youth who have taken upon themselves the mantle to oppose this Muslim tradition.
According to reports coming from Hyderabad, an organization called Hindu Vahini has sprung up spewing venom against the Muslim’s practice of animal sacrifice. In the name of Animal protection the cadres of Hindu Vahini are not only attacking the traders who are brining animals from the rural areas to the cities, but are also confiscating their cattle.
It is reported that these self proclaimed guardian of Hindu faith are also reselling such animals and operating as thugs under the garb of Hinduism.
The activities of Hindu Vahini have compelled the traders of animals, many of them being non Muslims to seek protection from the police. In Hyderabad they have petitioned to control the activities of Hindu Vahini cadres, else there could be communal flare up in entire state. They have warned that the way things are shaping up, it will be difficult for them to continue this trade.
This is one facet of this story, the other is, certain Hindu Vahini leaders like Raja Singh (Corporator) TDP party and Y Kuntum (Corporator) BJP, have given hate speeches regarding the Bakrid festival. In fact while making anti Islamic statements, some leaders of Hindu Vahini have openly called for enrollment of a Hindu Army.
The local police did not take action to such blatant communal propaganda in spite of the complaint being made. Some Muslims have questioned why permission to such Hindu zealots was given to organize public meetings. Every one knows that hate speeches may lead to communal clashes and this was what happened last year in Hyderabad during the Bakrid festival. Again this year, a similar atmosphere is being built and no one has taken any note of it so far.
This is not an isolated case of Hyderabad alone. Last year, at Jama Masjid in Delhi a notice stuck on its walls that narrated the plight of the animal traders lamenting the hardship they faced to bring the animals to the national capital. They blamed the some anti social elements objecting to their trade, the police harassing them and the huge expenses on transportation to ferry such animals, all leading to the exorbitant prices of the sacrificing animals.
There are few nuggets of this story that needs to be analyzed. One is the argument of the animal lovers, who do not want cruelty against animals and feel that animals need to be protected. They are driven by compassion and equate animals with human beings. If they are allowed to have their way, all the carnivores’ animals would go hungry and the entire biodiversity may turn topsy-turvy. It would be difficult to convince such folks as such arguments can go on till cows come home!
However, the most important feature of this discussion is the growing radicalization of the many Hindu youths, who are seeking a sense of identity by taking up such issues. With their own interpretation of Hinduism and mixing it with nationalism, they are making an explosive cocktail, swelling the ranks of Hindu Vahini. This is really a dangerous portent for the country its interfaith communal harmony.
The most conspicuous thing about it is the so called mainstream media, that goes gung-ho about the radicalization of Muslim youth is maintaining a conspiracy of silence about such right wing Hindu organization like Hindu Vahini.
In this country every one has the freedom to practice one’s religion and no one has to right to dictate how others should pray. Muslims are highly conscious about Hindu’s sensitivities towards ‘Cow’ and avoid its sacrifice as mark of respect. However, now when even the sacrifice of other animals are being objected, its time to blow the whistle. This madness has to be dealt with firmness; else it will rip apart the communal mosaic of the country.
In Indian country side many farmers, mostly non Muslims, take to the rearing of the animals for the purpose of selling them during the Bakrid festival. Similarly, many traders, mostly non Muslims, take up this job and trade in animals during Bakrid festivities. The activities of some Hindu youth are hurting their right to livelihood. Are we going to mortgage this country to such anti social elements, and allow them to have a free run? It’s high time to take a call on such issues. What are we doing with the freedom of this country?
An old warning of Jawaharlal Nehru sounds appropriate here; “Communalism is the single most subversive ideology in contemporary India. While all communalism is bad, minority communalism is at least born out of fear but majority communalism is nothing but sheer fascism”, he once observed.
The appropriate punch line for this theme could be; “Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.”
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org