Given how the Sangh Parivar works, the murder of a 50-year-old Muslim an Uttar Pradesh district over allegations of having eaten beef should come as no surprise. The ghastly episode of a man beaten to death by a mob on mere suspicion, and injuring his son critically, may have a few other angles. The area, Greater Noida, for example, is one which has seen burgeoning land and real estate prices; and often attacks on Muslims are meant to force people out of localities with a view to grab property. But that is still incidental. What is important to note here is the build-up to the murder, and the larger implementation of the Sangh Parivar’s agenda.
This ‘Parivar’ is a unified-in-thought but a loosely-arranged conglomeration. One branch, for example, provides the ideological foundations and agenda, and another provides foot soldiers on the street to enforce it. And yet another, the political, in this case the BJP, offers a judicious mix of silence and justifications. In that context, since this murder follows the ‘controversy’ created in J&K over thenforcement of the Dogra-era beef ban law, it is instructive to note how Hindutva agendas ‘progress’.
The move to ask the Jammu division of the High Court for directions on the ban on beef was a carefully calculated one. The Dogra regime, as historians have noted, was a de-facto Hindutva regime where Muslims were veritable third-grade citizens by law. The invocation of that law was meant to create both a controversy as well as a diversion – away from other political projects in Kashmir. The agenda was, in effect, being set. It would have been fully realised that the court order would lead to an impasse in Muslim-majority Kashmir, where beef consumption is common. What was sought, apart from mapping out the terrain of contestation, was furthering, via that impasse, the notion of consuming beef as an anti-Hindu act. The point isn’t that historians have written about cow slaughter et al being common in mythical-ancient ‘Hindu’ India. This becomes, via Kashmir, a message to Muslims in India on what their place is; that they are bound by an invented majoritarian sentiment.
This fits in with the overall Sangh Parivar idea of turning Muslims into second-class citizens, according to law. The focus, therefore, must be on how the ‘law’ is sought to first made historically contingent, therefore majoritarian, and then incorporated into the body politic of the modern nation state.