A BJP MLA in Uttar Pradesh has threatened physical violence against anyone who kills cows in the state. This has raised the question whether an informal beef ban already exists in UP, as seen in the closure of several illegal slaughterhouses.
The BJP had already enforced a ban on beef and cow slaughter in two states it rules — Maharashtra and Haryana — and speculation that these bans will be enacted in Uttar Pradesh started doing rounds ever since the BJP chose Yogi Adityanath as chief minister of the state.
Threat of harm
That speculation was only fuelled further when Khatauli MLA Vikram Saini — an accused in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots case — said at a function to felicitate UP Minister Suresh Rana on Saturday: "I had promised that I will break the hands and legs of those who hesitate in saying 'Vande Matram', those who feel pain in saying 'Bharat mata ki jai' and also those who do not consider cow as their mother and kill them."
He added: "We are ready to fulfil the promise. We have a team of youth activists to take action [against such people]." He subsequently refused to apologise for his comments when approached on the matter.
The Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata Ki Jai row is from when AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi had refused to say the slogans, claiming they were being forced on Muslims. It was from just over a year ago, and Owaisi was condemned for his remarks.
Will there really be a total beef ban?
While right-wing elements have been calling for a total ban on beef and cattle meat in the country for several years now, the only true bans came in the last couple of years, and that too in Maharashtra and Haryana.
The trend may spread to some other states, but enforcing an all-India ban would be utter folly on behalf of the BJP, because a large portion of minority Indians do eat beef. In fact, it is possibly one of the cheapest sources of meat proteins available to them. Banning it would be akin to political hara-kiri for the BJP.