In two separate incidents, a student leader in Kerala was served a show cause notice and three construction workers in Assam were arrested for hurting religious sentiments by cooking and displaying beef respectively.
The three workers, which included a minor, were working at a construction site for an industrial training institute on the outskirts of Jorhat, according to a report in Hindustan Times.
“They bought beef from somewhere on Tuesday and went to a vegetable market where they talked about their purchase. Some people took it seriously and lodged a complaint following which we picked them up,” Jorhat SP Prasanta Kumar Bhuyan told the paper. Bhuyan added that because the accused displayed the meat, they also hurt religious sentiments. The meat seized by the police has been sent to a forensic laboratory for examination.
Slaughter of cows is prohibited in Assam under the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950.
Shah Zaman Haque of Dhubri and Ashur Rahman of Kokrajhar were sent to 14 days’ judicial custody by a local court. The minor was sent to a juvenile home.
AT Sarjas, the student leader who was served a showcause notice in Kerala, has denied cooking beef, according to a report in The Telegraph. Sarjas is a Students’ Federation of India (SFI) leader and former chairman of the union at NA Palkhivala Academy For Advanced Legal Studies and Research in Kozhikode.
Sarjas received the notice, warning of “suitable action” if he didn’t reply within a week, on April 4. The notice was sent by Principal TP Rajalakshmy. It accused Sarjas of creating communal tension by cooking beef. “It is evident that you have been trying to destroy this institution as an agent of external forces and communal elements,” the notice read. The notice also accused Sarjas of cooking beef with the knowledge that it would “hurt the religious sentiments of others”. “This is an unpardonable offence,” the notice added.
Sarjas has denied that he cooked beef on campus. He told The Telegraph that on March 20, students affiliated to SFI, the ruling CPM’s student wing, had organised a protest against the closure of a canteen where a full-course Kerala meal had been cooked.
“We had protested by cooking a meal that included fish and chicken, but not beef,” he told the paper. He added that he failed to comprehend why the administration had sought an explanation after such a long delay.
Sarjas also refuted the claim that the canteen was vegetarian. He told The Telegraph that both students and college staff used to bring meat, including beef, from outside and eat there although the canteen serves only vegetarian food.
The leader said he suspected that RSS activists, who wield influence in some pockets of Kozhikode, were trying to create a climate of intolerance on the campus. The state unit of SFI too has taken serious note of the matter and is planning to protest. “The students didn’t cook beef during the protest. Even if they had, the institution has no right to issue a memo and take action since no one can dictate what we eat,” M Vijin, the SFI state secretary, told The Telegraph. Vijin also demanded that the notice be recalled. “We will not allow this kind of politics around beef in this state, where people have the complete freedom to eat what they want,” he said.
The debate on cow-slaughter and beef has been raging across the country. On Saturday, a Muslim man in Rajasthan was beaten to death while returning from the market after buying a milch cow. This led to heated debate in the Parliament on Thursday.