I am a Hindu, a sensible, thoughtful, and a kind one, just like the most of you, I’d imagine. In an ideal world, I wouldn’t want even a single cow to be slaughtered, not necessarily for religious reasons, but simply because it is a cruel act. Killing any living creature is an act of sin in the eyes of God. Period.
But since we don’t live in a perfect world, we should have found a way to deal with the matter of beef, objectively. For Muslims, killing cows for consumption is normal practice, it is endorsed in Islam. And since Muslims are an integral part of India, making the country secular in nature, they have every right to eat beef. But how does that happen in a society which is showing increasing signs of religious intolerance? How does a Muslim feel safe eating beef when there is a homicidal mob headed his way, to lynch him, because he ate their mother?
Killing 50-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq in the most gruesome manner over beef eating by hardened Hindu elements was a heinous crime. The unstable mob, and others, like Sakshi Maharaj, Sadhvi Prachi, and Yogi Adityanath, are the self-proclaimed guardians of holy cows. If left to them, they’d make cows mother to every Hindu. I have a mother, and she is not a cow, thank you very much.
As a Hindu, I was touched by the 40-year-old Asiya Khan and her family. The Muslim family feed and maintain over 800 cows. It was a little shocking to read of Muslims dedicated to serving 800 Hindu mothers. Isn’t Asiya, and her family, the true guardians of our cows?
Weekends are never free at their Mehrauli’s gaushala (cow shelter house). The Muslim family works through the day to feed, bathe, and clear their dung. Here is the irony of Incredible India! Where there are Hindus killing and thrashing Muslims over beef rumours, there is a Muslim family that has spent a good part of their lives serving cows that Hindus hold sacred.
“Taking care of cows is the only job I have known. It makes me happy to nurse the ailing cows that come to shelter. Amid riots and the recent murder, I have never felt scared doing this within the gaushala temple premises,” says Asiya Khan. Nothing could be more shameful for people who took part in the killing in the name of cows.
And what are we doing? I see cows roaming around in Delhi, often left to rot. If we truly hold cows sacred, there shouldn’t be even a single abandoned cow on the road, because she is a mother. Where does our religious reverence disappear to when we leave them to endure heat, cold, and rain on their own?
If cows are really mothers to Hindus, why do we abandon them once she stops supplying milk? Where is our regard for our mother when we pass by her, indifferent, while she is rummaging through garbage and waste, and die because one unlucky mother consumed plastic from the menu which offered much in variety and taste, like rotten food, plastic bags, vomit, glass pieces, and every conceivable kind of filth?
If a cow dies a natural death, can the disempowered then be permitted to consume its meat? What if it could save lives because humans have been suffering starvation? Can they consume it, then?
Cows in India are no different from the cows in the West, where they are slaughtered in hundreds of thousands. Most in the West eat beef, it’s staple for many. Why don’t we lodge a protest with the US Government, or the United Nations, and demand beef ban in the respective countries? We won’t because we can’t control it; it is out of our hands. So ultimately, we abandon our non-resident mothers and move on.
Unless we evolve, rise above religious lines, we will never achieve true growth. Because growth of a nation should not be measured by its buildings, infrastructure and the flow of FDIs, it should be measured on the basis of how tolerant, compassionate, selfless, and giving we are.