Beef is to India what blasphemy is to Pakistan

The idea is simple – polarise India’s Hindu majority by playing it off against the minority communities.

Sapan Kapoor October 02, 2015
Date: November 4, 2014

Place: Pakistan

A Christian couple, Shahzad Masih (26) and his five month-pregnant wife, Shama Bibi (24), accused of allegedly burning pages of the Holy Quran were locked inside a room in Kot Radha Kishan, Punjab, by an angry mob. At the same time, one could hear announcements being made from mosque loudspeakers in nearby villages that “a Christian woman had desecrated the Quran”.

Residents of the village and the couple’s brick kiln co-workers gathered people from five surrounding villages. Before long, a frenzied mob, comprising thousands of people armed with clubs, hatchets and axes, dragged the hapless couple out of the room. Both were beaten to a sodden pulp, but they were still alive. The mob was, however, not willing to leave them alone. So they took some petrol from a tractor and doused their bodies and threw them in the kiln, burning them alive – a very painful death indeed.

Date: September 28, 2015

Place: India

Fifty-year-old Muhammad Akhlaq, a farmer in Dadri, was accused of consuming beef and engaging in cow-slaughtering. An announcement was made from a local temple on a loudspeaker that a cow had been slaughtered and its carcass had been found near a transformer. Before long, a frenzied mob converged outside the Muslim family’s house, broke open the doors and dragged Akhlaq and his son, Danish, out on the road. Akhlaq was beaten to death with bricks while Danish was left critically injured on the spot. According to the victim’s daughter, some of the men even tried to molest her.

Moreover, adding salt onto the wounds of the victim’s family, the police, as usual, failed to reach the spot on time despite repeated requests. And when they did reach, the first thing they did was to send the meat found inside the refrigerator in the house for examination, so as to ascertain whether it was beef or not. The chilling implication was that if it was indeed beef, then the mob was justified, to an extent, in murdering the 50-year-old man whose son worked for the Indian Air Force.

The uncanny similarity between these two incidents should make it quite obvious that we are in deep water and sailing in the same boat. Yes, ladies and gentleman, India and Pakistan have the same issues. Welcome to Modi’s ‘Digital India’ where people are killed for merely eating beef, where life of an animal is more important than the life of a human being who had a family, feelings and passions.

In Pakistan, it is the blasphemy law and in India it is beef. One pretext or the other is being used to settle scores, ancient grudges and delivering mob justice while the state remains a mute spectator or sometimes actively takes part in the crime.

It is a pity that Modi has time to take selfies with Americans and Japanese people during his whirlwind world tours but refuses to take a moment to utter a word against this horrible tragedy that has befallen the family of an Indian Air Force officer.

Who is responsible for this crime?

Who has poisoned my country’s air to the extent that it has become difficult to even breathe in this climate of hatred?

Whose hands are stained with blood, the blood of innocent people of my India?

There’s been a substantial increase in communal violence since this government has come to power. Verily, as I write this piece, tension prevails in Jharkhand’s capital, Ranchi, after beef was found at a temple five days ago. This led to a communal clash, forcing authorities to become extra vigilant and shut down schools.
“Around midnight on Monday, members of one community armed with sharp edged weapons attacked people of other communities and burnt houses at the Doranda locality in Ranchi, forcing authorities to impose restriction on movements,” police said.

We should try and understand the politics behind it. Beef has always been a sensitive issue for India’s ‘vegetarian’ Hindus and Jains, but not sensitive enough to lynch someone for consuming it. Things are now being taken to a new level with political benefits in mind, for polarisation helps when it comes to polls.

The idea is simple – polarise India’s Hindu majority by playing it off against the minority communities. And what better way create polarities than rake up old issues that should be forgotten.

First they ban beef, then they try to ban meat and then they resort to mob justice.

If this state of affairs is allowed to be continued and the government fails to bring the culprits to justice, it will set a dangerous precedent. Anybody consuming meat and beef would become a soft target, and people would use this pretext to settle scores and quench their insatiable thirst for blood. Temples would be used to give the pack of wolves a clarion call for attacking hapless minorities.

People consuming mutton can be accused of having beef and falsely accused of the ‘crime’ they never committed.

Who is the state to decide what I should and should not eat?

The state should not dictate terms to us by acting as a big brother. Incidents like the one in Dadri are a shameful blemish on India’s integrity. This evil of intolerance and violence should be nipped in the bud. This savagery is not in our ‘national interest’.

Today marks the 146th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.  It is a pity that we are observing this day against the backdrop of the ghastly Dadri incident.

If Gandhi was alive today, he would have cried his heart out after seeing the level of intolerance in India and Pakistan. He loved the people of both the countries dearly.

In Barack Obama’s words,
“Michelle and I returned from India, an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity – but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs – acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhi ji, the person who helped to liberate that nation.”

As we hurtle down towards perdition, let us take a pledge to cleanse our hearts and tame the evil inside us. Let there be peace in our thoughts, words and actions. The survival of the human race is at stake.
Sapan Kapoor A history buff and India-based journalist, the author has worked with the Press Trust of India. He blogs at and tweets as @dRaconteur.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


A J Khan | 8 years ago | Reply India is world second biggest exporter of Holy Beef.
Rakib | 8 years ago | Reply Law & not just religion had much to do with it all. Nehru & Jinnah were both lawyers but Jinnah was more of a stickler for letter of law. Both did not want their daughters to have "marriage" that was invalid in the eyes of law. Under British Raj inter-faith marriages were not allowed. And the only way it could be made legal was under Act III of 1872 whereby one of the parties had to convert to religion of the other and/or publicly (or by affidavit) renounce one's religion of birth. Dina & Neville were not willing to do either & Jinnah did not want to recognise an illegal liaison. Jinnah's daughter Dina was a born Muslim (Jinnah's wife Ruttie had converted to Islam at the time of marriage) and Neville Wadia, her beau, was a born Christian, though towards end of his life he got converted to Zoroastrianism. (Neville's father Ness Wadia had converted to Christianity & died one). (2) An initially reluctant Nehru agreed and Indira got married to Feroze as per Hindu (Adi Dharma) Rites. He either renounced Zoroastrianism by affidavit in front of Registrar or went thru quick "shuddhikaran"! Either way, he was no longer welcome in any Parsi Agiyari, nor were his sons deemed to be Zoroastrians though their Parsi ancestry was not denied. In Independent India Special Marriages Act 1954 took care of the issue and conversion/renouncement was no longer mandatory.
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