Beef Ban – Expect the unexpected

Shoeb Hamid

There are only two theories that appear to be of some application when Beef Ban hullabaloo is put in a tangible context. One, that the Beef Ban was a deliberate ploy to take away the attention from poor performance of the government, especially the BJP wing, after 2014 floods. And two, that the right-wing is testing waters in the state, perhaps for the launch of more aggressive attack on the Muslim majority community.
Beef Ban - Expect the unexpectedFew days before Beef Ban grabbed the attention by becoming lead stories together with the follow-ups, the newspapers in Kashmir were flooded with the waters of Jhelum that passed a year ago. A lot of water has flown down the Jhelum since September 2014, but the ugly scars in the form of stains, stench, sack of hundreds of families and scenes of a never-seen-before disaster are still fresh. New renditions of last year’s floods and one year of nothing was well presented by the local press. Forget about the alien press which might find a chicken fight more important to report on, there should be no hope pinned to that kind of journalism anyway.
The resentment is massive, as the PDP-BJP government has failed to keep its word. It is more than the failure of the state government as it exposes the poor performance of Modi-led union government. As an accomplishment, proper rehabilitation, had it taken place, would have been lauded as both BJP and Modi magic. Since it did not take place, the bad press had to be neutralized. Ban the beef and within a day all flood passions are directed to a religious issue. Modi government has not spoken a word on the picture put on September 7, 2015. The state unit of BJP to fend off those negative vibes utterly needed a major distraction, a diversion to shift the attention from the issue of governance to the issue of religious passions. Such diversionary or deceptive politics has been witnessed lately in other states as well where ploys like Ghar Wapsi, Beef Ban, chanting Vande Mataram, etc., have been employed to take attention from real issues relating governance. One version of truth may be that Modi government’s failure on issues like getting money back from foreign institutions, failure to check inflation, failure to address problems faced by farmers, diplomatic failures in the region in particular and at international level in general, failure to introduce an ingenious scheme, policy or present a vision, failure of cleanliness drive, failure to keep state governments on a single line forward movement…. After more than a year of rule all we know is hanging people to evoke religious passions and satisfy vote-bank conscience, keeping mum over involvement of chief ministers in alleged scandals, recasting policies of former governments and taking credits, speaking man ki baat when it is time to do things on the ground, and yes revoking ban on porn after stiff opposition.
Now that the Beef Ban issue has been beefed up, there is no turning back; whether it was a diversionary ploy or not doesn’t matter anymore. Whether anyone tried to hijack the genuine grievances of people for petty politics is outlived. The question now is can minority with the assistance of New Delhi conquer the majoritarian character of the state?
A small thought, if the porn ban can be revoked and partially revoked, why can’t the Beef Ban be which is completely an unjust law in the state that has over 68 per cent population representing Muslims? Isn’t it diabolic on the part of BJP state unit to support the Beef Ban and directly go against more than two-third population of the state? A two-third ratification is enough to scrap laws and change governments in Indian state. Problem is that they need to be educated first about representations and legislations.
An important event that is to unfurl outside the state, is the Bihar polls. BJP-led government realizing the strength of the rivals seems to have issued a promissory fat cheque to buy Bihar. The same thing was done in 2014 when gullible Kashmiris were transported in coaches to be told about a promissory fat cheque that would be enough to buy the anodyne. It didn’t happen here, may be poor Bihar gets lucky.
The second theory, testing waters in Kashmir, sounds more ominous to a common Kashmiri, who is more than wary about cagey legislators and the support that is behind them. What was the most important concern before State assembly elections of 2014? It wasn’t flood compensation in all but the hanging sword over Article 370 which is there in BJP’s manifesto. Now it only makes a Kashmiri think, had BJP got the numbers right would they have gone ahead with their tirade against Article 370? The way they have stood on Beef Ban clearly shows their intent. One can argue that Article 370 is intact because BJP didn’t get the figure 44+ right. So, will they get it next time?
The Beef Ban would expose BJP’s intent, whether they follow the dictums of RSS in the state or mean just business, not necessarily serious business. Assembly sessions may turn out a high adrenaline show after all. It looks BJP wants another election but they should keep in mind that it would be bereft of Modi magic and bombastic talk on loudspeakers promising them development and delivering Beef Ban through a pizza guy.
Beef Ban would further push the political groups to the right. May be next time Jamaat, which has been distancing itself,  would support a Muslim right group as a precautionary measure against RSS onslaught in Kashmir. Even New Delhi cannot see it as victory as it seems to have a problem with Muslim radicalization.
It is now or never situation as there is no assurance as what might happen next. Today it is Beef Ban tomorrow it can be Article 370. Leaders as well as people of Kashmir should stand their ground than allow their slow and gradual conquest. Scrap the law or stand down.
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