Posted by iftikhar shah
March 8, 2017

NOTE: This post has been self-published by the author. Anyone can write on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The article was written a in 2016 when the whole controversy around the cow nationalism was erupted.

A Muslim family which belongs to a pastoralists tradition where both human and its livestock depends on each other for their survival. They care for their livestock as much as their offspring. Naming their livestock defining what name suits each family of animals and these name are not on the basis of their relation to different species. These names are e.g. for cows, Seri (for a cow having white hair on her forehead), Tari (for healthy and beautiful), Hirni (which looks and run like a deer), Meli (black cow) and also there are lots of other names for sheep and goats which shows the bonds between human and animal and also as counterparts. Perhaps an outsider will be surprised to see that when a cow gives birth to a calf, what she eats, maize flour Bread with honey and ghee served and care taken by the household during that time. I have greater difficulty in accepting the idea that those who eat the flesh of their own livestock can never love or take care of their livestock particularly if it is cow which is sacred to a certain section of the people.

Although we left the pastoralist way of living for about a decade ago. But still cow remains a central feature of our identity and respect in the village. People say there is magic in my mother’s hand how she able to keep her cow healthy and always running with milk. Perhaps that might be the practice and knowledge of hundred of years of pastoralists tradition. But my larger point is and will be that it is incorrect to say that the cow is holy to some and just flesh to others. When my father was under huge debt during the earthquake of 8th October of 2005 we have given away our cattle one by one and my mother cried and said she feels like she lost her most important thing. For days, she was not able to sleep that now she was empty. In those mean time, we also ate beef (cow flesh). Because lots of animals got hurt during the earthquake and it was an intelligent choice to put them to use and earn a livelihood by selling the cow meat.

I would not say and give a logic that it’s a cheap access to protein, which I believe that these people (supporter of meat as a cheap source of protein) are on the wrong side. Their statement supports meat-industrialization based on the idea of mass consumption and contradicting themselves by bringing the issue of animal welfare. I would say that it serves as a welfare to people as well as their livestock to do whatever they are brought up for. Of course, it can be interpreted as what the supporter of meat as a cheap source of protein says. First, the majority of the meat eater community does not depend on industrial based meat. Secondly, those animals (cows) which go under the knife usually are male or those with poor health, those who stops giving milk, those stops bearing calf and an older one. How much one thinks that it’s in their welfare to keep them in confinement for years. It is in the human nature that he/she does not like anything which doesn’t give anything in return. Institutionally might be possible for a certain number but that will give them more suffering and painful death.

At last, my broader point is that it is actually giving rise to ego-consumption (beef eating) and ego-loving of a voiceless animal who are the victim of our short-sighted politics and misunderstanding of cultures, religion, and belief. Earlier people used to eat beef for the sake of eating it. Now it’s been eaten as a way of protest e.g. during the Eid (id-ul-Adha) in Kashmir, separatists went on to say that it’s good (virtue) to cut the cow on this day when the beef ban controversy erupted. On the other hand, the so-called protector of cow started to put them into confinements and prohibit the selling of cow so that they can die an even worse and useless death. This can be seen in Maharashtra where cattle owners are facing the brunt of this ego. Neither fodder nor water, they have to dig up the graves and bury ill cattle alive so that they don’t have to waste anymore resource on them.

Ban around the world doesn’t even helped reducing the menace of drug abuse how a ban can stop a practice so close to human rights more precisely right to live.

Ghumri Dhok (Behak)

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