VHP, The Bull In Goa Shop

Alliance partners in the government have rallied behind meat traders in the state and favoured providing police protection to them to overcome any threat from right wing groups. The Vishva Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini have threatened to impose a total ban on cow slaughter and sale and consumption of beef. The VHP threat came a few days after BJP MP Subramaniam Swamy issued a similar threat. The Goa BJP leadership said the party did not subscribe to his view. With the allies against any move to impose beef ban, the BJP would need to take a strong position on the issue. Meat traders fear that cow vigilantism may take an ugly turn following VHP threat to impose a total ban on beef in Goa within next two years, even if the state government did not support them.

The threat of the right wing groups to ban cow slaughter in Goa is however unfounded as cow slaughter has been banned in the state since 1978 through legislation and notification. These groups appear to be attempting to create a divide in the Goan society on the issue of beef consumption and cow slaughter. The minority communities who consume beef have refrained from slaughtering cow giving due respect to the feelings of the majority community; they have been slaughtering bulls which is allowed by law. Goa being a small state there is hardly any possibility of carrying out illegal slaughter of cows without people coming to know of it. There have been stray cases of bulls being slaughtered at non-hygienic places illegally but there has been no recorded case of cow slaughter so far, at least in the recent past. The VHP and other groups are trying to arouse passions on the sensitive issue which could be detrimental to the communal peace prevailing in the state. The government needs to act sternly against those found indulging in illegalities, be it illegal slaughter of animals or those trying to impose ban through extra constitutional means.

Goa has over the years witnessed tension over the issue of cow protection and there have been cases of vigilante groups trying to impound cattle being transported in vehicles or beef brought from other states, where slaughter of bulls is permitted. While there have been no cases of brutal attacks or murders as has been the cases elsewhere in the country, the state authorities need to take steps to prevent any such instance, as any attack could have far-reaching consequences on the harmonious relationship between the followers of different faiths in Goa. While ensuring that illegal slaughter of animals does not take place the government should take stern action against those trying to whip up communal anger by making inflammatory speeches. The state government would be more effective in nailing the propaganda of the extreme groups if it comes out with the information with regard to cases of illegal cow slaughter, if any, and action taken against the perpetrators of crime. It is also necessary that slaughter of all bulls is carried out at the Goa Meat Complex and other government-designated places, which have adequate hygienic arrangements, especially during the Eid-al-Adha when animals are slaughtered in large numbers as part of religious rites so as to prevent illegalities.

VHP general secretary Acharya Radhakrishna Manori’s statement that his organisation would not take the help of the state government to stop cow slaughter and beef consumption as activists of the Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini were capable enough to carry out the job has wide-ranging implications. If allowed to go unrestrained such threats have the potential to vitiate the atmosphere of communal harmony. It is, therefore, necessary that steps have to be taken by the government to stop all illegalities. The authorities have to ensure that application of law was not selective. In order to take stern action against those carrying out illegal slaughter of animals the law enforcing authorities could seek the help of well-meaning people in collecting information. There is also need to create among the people, especially those belonging to the minority communities, a mass awareness that any illegal slaughter would invite the harshest punishment in accordance with the law. The help of religious leaders of the minority communities could be taken for creating awareness about what was permissible and what was not so as to avoid any confrontation. While cow slaughter must never be allowed, strong and sincere efforts have to be made to ensure that vigilante groups do not exercise the liberty to impose ‘their law’ on others to decide what they should eat or what they should not.


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