An estimated mob of 200 Hindus recently lynched a 50-year-old Muslim worker Mohammad Akhlaq for presumably eating beef at his home in Dadri, a small village near Indian capital New Delhi. They also severely injured his son Danish.
A death of a Muslim by Hindus or vice versa happens periodically in India. And every time it happens, a grieving family demands justice; politicians parade to a victim’s home to offer condolence and compensation; and the public asks what is wrong with us.
This time something is different: the Prime Minister is silent. Some argue that Hindu Prime Minster Modi is condoning the despicable act of hardcore Hindus by remaining silent; others say he may someday speak.
To speak or not, at this moment Modi is irrelevant. If he condemns the ghastly act then he is denouncing it for the sake of denouncing it for he has compromised his own sincerity, believability, and character. Moreover, militant Hindus are unlikely to listen to him.
To end bloodshed, India needs a leader of Gandhiji’s stature. Modi is no Gandhiji.
If moderates do not find ways to end the needless lynching carried out by either Hindus or Muslims, living in India may become scary.
Here is one way: if beef lovers agree that eating beef causes serious illness (such as heart, cancer, and mad cow diseases) as well as hurts Hindus’ feeling then why not save cows?
If pork lovers agree that pork meat insults Muslims then why slaughter pigs?
Some habits are unhealthy and unhygienic: smoking cigarette, drinking alcohol, inhaling drug, chewing tobacco. And both the public and the government pay heavy prices for these habits.
For instance, if one gets cancer from eating beef, taxpayers pay directly or indirectly one’s medical bills. If India bans cow sacrifice, the government pays taxpayers’ money to an army of law enforcers to ascertain that no one is killing cows.
However, if we commit voluntarily and honestly and steadfastly ourselves to ending cow sacrifice, we could save both lives as well as taxpayers’ money.
In the name of freedom, if we are not willing to respect the sentiments and beliefs of different communities then our multi-faith society may never find a lasting peace.
During a candlelight vigil in New Delhi on 3 October 2015 in memory of Akhlaq, one person holding a placard that read a message from Mahatma Gandhi:
I would not kill a human being for a cow as I will not kill a cow for a human.
The day before the vigil, India celebrated Gandhiji’s 146th birth anniversary.