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Prime Cuts

An air thick with innuendo and contempt produces a new stigma: meat-eating

Prime Cuts
Sandipan Chatterjee
Prime Cuts
outlookindia.com
2016-02-17T12:16:35+05:30

Two days before Id-ul-Zuha, Baroda-based businessman Yusuf Sheikh went for a meeting at the Swaminarayan temple in the city, to meet with the chief mahant and other religious leaders of both communities. The idea behind the meeting was to maintain communal peace during the Id, traditionally observed with the qurbani of an animal and the distribution of the meat. He showed the Hindu religious leaders pamphlets that had been distributed for the past two years in Muslim localities across Gujarat, saying that cow sacrifice was now illegal and would bring troubles on the community. He says that no one in Gujarat would be foolish enough to invite violence on themselves by slaughtering cows and if they did so should be punished. He felt that such efforts were necessary in an atmosphere where there had been tensions during the preceding Navratra festivities when images of the Mother Goddess were superimposed on that of Mecca and distributed on WhatsApp and Face­b­ook. There had been curfews and small clashes in quite a few Gujarat towns, inc­l­uding Ahmedabad, during the festive sea­son. There was, indeed, fear in the air.

Yet the efforts of individuals from both communities to keep the peace were finally futile. This Id was a nightmare for many in Gujarat. Trucks carrying goats and buffaloes were stopped at many places by the police, often accompanied by Bajrang Dal activists. This happened particularly in Dahod and Panchmahal districts, where there is an economic link between tribals and Muslims, both consumers of meat. Often people were falsely harassed for ‘carrying cows for slaughter’. Yusuf says, “I don’t remember an Id when so many reports of harassment came in. Now even eating bakra (goat) meat during Id can land someone in trouble. Even during Modi’s rule in Gujarat, in the post-riot...

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