Former chief justice of Delhi High Court Justice Rajinder Sachar was virtually booed by academicians and scholars on Friday for saying that most beef traders in the country are Hindus and that Muslims were being unjustly targeted for eating beef.
Justice Sachar made the comments during the 'International conference on Radical Islam' held at a Mathura college on Friday, according to The Times of India.
Referring to the current controversial topic and the recent lynchings over beef rumours, Justice Sachar said that even while 95% of the beef traders in India were Hindus, people are being lynched by right-wing groups for eating cow meat.
"Almost 95% beef traders are Hindus. Still, a man was lynched in Dadri because he ate beef. This is the death of mankind and humanity. Eating habits have nothing to do with religion. Even I can eat beef," he said, according to TOI.
The former chief justice's remark was, however, met with protests by academicians present at the seminar, with many reportedly walking out of the room and some even switching off lights and fans, as per the report.
The conference on radical Islam had scholars visiting from Canada, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and several other nations.
Some professors accused Justice Sachar of converting the discussion into an 'anti-Hindu' diatribe.
"The guests, scholars and intellectuals present at the auditorium got furious when Justice Sachar turned a 'pro-Muslim' topic into an 'anti-Hindu' one. We all have freedom of speech but one should carefully choose words while addressing a public gathering," Shiv Ram Bharadwaj, a professor at a Mathura college, was quoted as saying.
The issue of beef has become a sensitive point in recent months, following the mob lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri in September after locals accused him of slaughtering a cow.
Since then, there have been at least three other instances where men were lynched in different parts of the country after being accused of possessing beef.
Justice Sachar, known for his Sachar Commitee report on Muslis' economic and social status, reportedly said that he had only made his remark to highlight that Muslims were being unjustly targeted.
The Dadri incident and several other cases of violence led to weeks of protests by writers, artists, scientisis and filmamakers who returned their awards to the government citing increasing intolerance in the country.