WEBDESK: Brawls and scuffles in elected houses are not uncommon, but if and when they do take place they shine light on the complexity of the political culture prevailing in the house.
The thrashing of Abdel Rashid Sheikh, an independent member of the Indian Occupied Kashmir state assembly, on Thursday is one such incident. As soon as he entered the house a clutch of BJP members pounced on him thrashing him good and proper.
His crime was: he had entertained his friends to a beef-kebab party at his residence in the MLA hostel, the night before. And as the fellow faith-holder was being thrashed a helpless, if not complicit, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed watched all of it wearing a complacent smile.
When forced by the Opposition to make an apology for his coalition partners’ adventure from the floor of the assembly he passed the buck to his deputy and coalition-partner BJP’s parliamentary leader, Dr Nirmal Singh. What happened is wrong, said Dr Singh, but ‘what happened at the MLA hostel party was also wrong’.
Protesting his dubious apology the opposition staged a walkout, precipitating a negative fallout in that all three private members Bills seeking annulment of the court order outlawing cow slaughter lapsed.
Simply put, the Mufti-Sayeed-headed government succumbed to the BJP pressure and accepted that Kashmiri Muslims will eat beef at the risk of earning corporal punishment, and that his party cannot afford to defy this Hindu fundamentalists’ countrywide dictate.
They are on the rampage against cow slaughter. Even someone suspected of eating beef or having stored it can meet the fate of Akhlaq Ahmad, a Muslim from the village of Dadri in UP who was lynched by a Hindu mob on the unfounded, in fact cooked-up, suspicion of having slaughtered a cow.
Almost coincidental to the thrashing of the Kashmiri Muslim member of assembly the Hindu fundamentalist Shiv Sena forced cancellation of ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali’s concert in Mumbai. India is world’s second largest beef exporter, and this beef certainly not of donkeys and camels, but of the bovine breed.
But there is a method to this madness, and the method is honed to win the upcoming Bihar election by vowing the Hindu vote. Such an antic had earlier paid the BJP in the 2014 national election when it fomented the communal riots in Muzaffarnager. Inciting Hindus against minorities and thus win their support is the BJP’s weapon of choice, provoking protests and calls for outside intervention to save the Indian minorities from rising tide of Hindutva.
Not that rival power Pakistan has asked India to protect Muslims, who out of fear for their safety are moving from their places of residence to communal ghettos, a letter has been dispatched to the United Nations from the Samajwadi Party. Its senior leader Azam Khan has sought intervention of the world body to stop targeting of Muslims, and its pressure upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ‘safeguard India’s secular credentials’.
Though it remains grist for a lingering debate if India was ever a secular state other than on paper. How has today’s government in India lost sight of the remarks of Indira Gandhi: ‘I cannot be cowed down by cow worshippers’.