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On the Beef Festival in Osmania
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On the Beef Festival in Osmania

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Dalit Camera: Through Un-Touchable Eyes

B. Sudarshan, one of the chief organisers of the recent ‘Peddakura Pandaga’, or Beef Festival, in Osmania University recently, speaks to Dalit Camera on the background of the event, and the need fororganising such an event, a couple of days before the festival.

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On December 10th, the whole world celebrates Human Rights Day.

Human society, through various stages of history, has fought for rights and established

this day, for protection of human rights.

In India, Dalits, Adivasis, minorities, Bahujan sections have been fighting against the inequalities laden Hindu religion, through different ways and forms.

But, unlike any other place in the world, in India there have been curbs on food habits. In this country, there have been various restrictions, asking people not to eat cow meat, bull meat, and ox meat. There have been restrictions on food habits of dalits and minorities, and if anyone consumes these foods, there has been a history of murdering them. In 2006, in Durvaria, 4 dalits were ruthlessly murdered inside a police station. And very recently, in Dadri, they spread rumours that a Muslim man named Akhlaq consumed beef and they cruelly murdered him. In this country, it seems that an animal’s life is worth more than a human being’s life.

Nowhere in the world is there a rule that says a certain food is only for dominant castes, certain food is only for dalits or only for the oppressed classes. But in India, there is difference in the food consumed by dalit-bahujans, Muslim minorities, Christians and Buddhists, and the food consumed by dominant caste hindus, Brahmins, kshatriyas and vaishyas. For thousands of years all these people were consuming beef and after Muslim kings invaded India, they have also continued the habit of consuming beef. Even in vedas, Upanishads, Ramayana and Mahabarata, all other history shows that people enjoyed eating beef. Babasaheb Ambedkar in the Riddles of Rama and Krishna (which was later referred by D. N. Jha in his book, The Myth of the Holy Cow), clearly showed how untouchability is present around cow meat. Nowhere in puranas or itihasas or in hindu religious books, has it been written that cow meat shouldn’t be eaten. They have written in puranas that the Vishnu avatars, pig, fish and turtle are holy. In their books, it is written that the hindu gods and goddesses enjoyed beef.

But during the independence struggle, to keep power in the hold of Brahmins, after sending the British away, Dayananda Saraswati, to change minority Brahmins into a majority, said that only muslim minorities eat cow meat and that the rest are hindus and don’t eat cow meat. He conducted a Gosamrakshana yatra and explained how cow is a holy mother. Later in 1964, Vinobha Bhave submitted in parliament that cow should be protected as it is holy to hindus. But in truth, article 48 of our constitution mentions that states can make laws to protect agriculture. But there is no mention of religion in article 48. But it only states that, through scientific temper, Indian agriculture and dairy animals should be protected. In ancient India, all classes of people consumed cow meat and there is historical evidence for this.

Brahmins became vegetarians only after actually sacrificing hundreds of thousands of cattle in the name of yagas, only when the Buddha started a movement to protect farm animals, to save agriculture. Later Jain Mahavir also started a movement to protect cattle from being sacrificed in thousands, in order to save agriculture in the country. But Buddhism and Jainism only opposed wasteful sacrifice of farm animals and there is no evidence that they opposed their consumption as food. In fact, even in Ramayana, as Rama was sacrificing thousands of cattle, Thataki fought with Rama to protect farm animals, and they deceptively kill her for that. From Thataki to asuras, and later Buddhisim and Jainism and Ambedkarites in the modern age, in order to protect nature and environment, they have been saving and caring for cattle. In this country, agriculture and cattle are only cared for by shudras and untouchables. Products from cow like milk, ghee and butter are enjoyed by dominant castes and hindus, but from the time of a cow’s birth to skinning it after its death and making chappals, in every such process, shudras and untouchable castes are involved. How to make use of an animal and how to rear them, is completely known only to the shudras and untouchable castes.

Therefore the main issue we are addressing today is that, the concept of purity, started by Dayananda Saraswati and Vinobha Bhave is a very cruel one. Swami Vivekananda, whom hindus consider as one of their great philosophers, in his book The complete worls of Vivekananda [volume 3, page 356], states that a hindu who doesn’t eat beef is not a hindu at all. Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayana, Ithihasas, Mahabarata, Vivekananda – all their holy books state that cow can be eaten and that it is unusual to not eat cow. For political benefit, for votes, to get votes from the majority, they are actively propagating Hindutva, politicising cow, in order to show Muslim minorities as our enemies, to try to grab Dalit-Bahujan and adivasi votes. But in the Bihar elections, the hindutvavadis were given a slap. Lalu Prasad Yadav himself has bravely proclaimed that hindus in this country also eat cow meat. We are inviting him. And Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah also stated that he himself eats cow meat and stop him if they can. They threatened that they would cut Siddaramaiah’s head into a thousand pieces. In this country, Hindutva has reached a very dangerous stage that even chief ministers are being threatened openly that they will be murdered. In truth, RSS Hindutva forces are not even following their own religious books. Only for political gain, they are encouraging religious politics and psychopathic politics.

That is why, in this context, in 2012, as nobody has the right to ban people’s food and the Constitution gives us the right to eat whatever food we like, we brought forward the demand that beef should be in the menu of all social welfare schools, hostels and especially universities. In 2012, we sent notices to human rights ministry that it is not right to ban people’s food – as it is a part of the food culture of dalit-bahujans and muslim minorities, beef should be brought back to the menu in universities. On this World Human Rights Day, we have brought this issue into discussion again. The whole world is watching with surprise that in India, there is a culture of banning food, there is fascism. Hindutva forces are behaving very dangerously, when we have a constitution that states our right to eat the food of our choice.

Therefore, dear friends, this 10th in Osmania University is going to be celebrated in a big way. To the “Peddakura Pandaga” beef festival, all SCs, STs, minorities, democrats, communists, rationalists, atheists, should come in big numbers to Osmania University and save the food rights in this country. We are inviting you all.

A BJP MLA called Raja Singh, is showing a big talwar and openly threatening to kill if this festival is held. But this state government didn’t arrest him. Police didn’t arrest him. BJP didn’t get him arrested. They tried to bring this up as an internal tussle within BJP, but we gave notices to TRS government and the Assembly Speaker, that those who make such statements should be arrested. But still no one is caring. They are not arresting Raja Singh, but are arresting Osmania University students. They trapped us in hostels. There are about a thousand police surrounding the hostels right now. They are trying to arrest the organisers of this fest. Yesterday we tried to conduct a 5k run, and the police arrested 40 students. On one side, Hindutva representatives have gone to court, and are trying to stop beef festival.

We read in today’s newspaper that the City Civil Court has given an order to maintain  status quo. In reality, all the courts in this country are in the hands of Brahmins and are steeped in casteism. Mahatma Phule, Babasaheb Ambedkar and Periyar have stated this. We know all the judgements will be in favour of Brahminic and Hindutva forces. But all the courts in this country are supposed to only follow the Constitution and give judgements and this is mandatory. We are hoping that the High Court or Supreme Court will give a judgement based on the Constitution. Dear friends, RSS, BJP, Bajrang Dal, Vishva Hindu Parishad, ABVP and other Hindutva organisations are trying to subvert the constution. In order to change this country into a democratic society, Mahatma Jotirao Phule, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Periyar, Ayothee Thassar, Ayyankali, and many more social reformers have struggled. The responsibility to protect it, the responsibility to keep this country equal, is on the SC, ST, BC, minority people of this country. Therefore as part of that, we request you all to attend the “Peddakura Panduga” beef festival in thousands.

OU once presented an Honourable Doctorate to Babasaheb Ambedkar. In this OU, every year Ganesh Chaturti is celebrated for 9 days and there is no chicken, mutton, egg in hostels for these 9 days. Everyone has to eat vegeratian food. Cow worship happens here, the pouring of milk during Nagula Panchami happens, Karthika Diparadhana happens. Once TRS party, for the sake of Telengana state, had used public places to celebrate Batukamma festival. They used all public roads for ‘Vanta Varpu.’ There has been a culture of using public places only by dominant castes and religions. Public places belong to every citizen equally according to our Constitution. But when dalit-bahujan and minority people try to use public places, including TRS which was using public places recently, the university officials object.

KCR gave his daughter crores and the permission to use all public places for Batukamma. They are using public places for for Vinayaka Chaviti, Batukamma, Holi, Nagula Panchami, Karthika Pournami, and none of these have been opposed by OU officials. But why are they opposing beef festival? Is it written in anywhere in UGC guidelines or in the Constitution, to run universities under Hindutva fold? OU officials are opposing students from conducting beef fest, but they are officially giving guest house facilities to beef fest opposers. When we question them on this, they are saying they will give to whoever they want. OU teachers’ association leader Battu Satyanarayana, is close to RSS. He never spoke about university problems, doesn’t care if students are studying or not, he doesn’t appear to take any classes, but he is working to implement Hindutva agenda in OU.

Therefore dear friends, these universities and higher education institutions are running under brahminical fold. Administration and academics are working with Brahmin mind-set. In universities and in higher education institutes, to promote democratic culture, we have established the Forum for Democratic Culture. It is going to be a big movement to rescue universities from brahminical fold and establish a democratic environment. We are calling for everyone in this country to join to save the universities and democratic values.

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