Chennai: Consuming beef, which was never an issue in the dravidian state of Tamil Nadu, now seems to be becoming one. After a man was thrashed for a post on having beef soup, another one has been arrested for a social media post on conducting a beef festival. However, on the upside, the incidents have spurred outrage and brought to the fore the debate on caste discrimination in Hinduism, an issue that had been lying dormant in the state for some time.
S Ezhilan (Ram Kumar), founder president of Tamil Nadu Kudiyarasu Katchi (Tamil Nadu Republic Party) was arrested in the early hours of Tuesday for inviting people for a beef festival on Facebook. A complaint was registered against him by Sundaran, the village administrative officer of Kallupuliyur panchayat.
The police booked Ezhilan under Sections 298 (uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and 505 (2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes), reported The Hindu.
Ezhilan reportedly put up the post as a reaction to the incident of a Muslim youth thrashed up by an extreme Right wing group in the past week. Mohamed Faizan, 24, of Poravachery village of Nagapattinam district, was allegedly attacked by members of the Hindu Makkal Katchi, a Sangh Parivar outfit on July 19, for his Facebook post on eating beef.
Incidentally, people across the world have been reacting on social media on these recent developments, unheard of in Tamil Nadu, a state which has a glorious history of resistance against brahmanical hegemony in Hinduism.
“Why is food eaten by a considerable section of people being opposed? This raises an important question,” said Aadhavan Dheetchanya, general secretary of Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association. He said beef was not a common item of consumption in the State but about 20% of the population ate beef.
“Statistically speaking, Nagapattinam has a dense Muslim population. Eating beef is not an issue there. But these (Right wing) people are attacking a person even in such a place. They are extending their cow vigilantism to Tamil Nadu now,” he added.
Aadhavan said he spoke to the attacked youth, Faizan, and found that the people who attacked him were his close friends. They belong to the same village. They used to participate in the Hindu temple festivals together. There was no issue between them so far. And the attack was very unexpected.
The attackers belong to the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK). When the complaint was lodged, the accused identified themselves as people from the Hindu Makkal Katchi (HMK). HMK people work in different political outfits and it is common for them to organise attacks under the banner of this extreme Right-wing outfit, sources said.
“There is an aversion towards eating beef among a section of people in Tamil Nadu and HMK is manipulating this situation,” said Aadhavan.
He pointed out that “an awareness is being created among the middle class and the youth against Hindutva politics now. The Hindutva forces are not being able to resist this and are resorting violence.”
Aadhavan also criticised the Tamil Nadu government for favouring communal elements. “The symptoms of communalism are showing up in the government machinery and police. They are becoming allies of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Dravidian politics is not as strong as it used to be in the state. The legacy of Periyar seems lost today. But after the BJP has come to power, these (caste hierarchy in Hinduism) issues are once again being addressed, which is a positive thing,” he added.