Especially with regard to the consumption of cow's meat, which is banned in many states of this country, there is now almost a paranoia among the Hindus. So much so that the Bhil tribe and some Dalits in Alirajpur who earlier used to eat cow's meat have now had to desist from doing so. Even in the 1980s the Bhils used to kill cows and eat their meat albeit surreptitiously in the jungles. One Dalit caste were scavengers of sorts and had the responsibility of skinning dead cattle and buffaloes. They would come to Bhilala Adivasi's house when a cow or buffalo died and skin it. They would then take, the hides and the bones which are sold for various uses and also the meat which they would eat. However, with time the eating of cow's meat has stopped altogether as has the killing of cows and also their skinning.
West Bengal, where I grew up, is one of the few states in India where cow slaughter and the eating of cow's meat is not banned and so as a young teenager I used to enjoy eating beef rolls in the famous Nizam's restaurant near New Market after seeing a film in one of the nearby cinemas. So on many occasions I joined the Bhils and Dalits in eating beef in Alirajpur also. I remember that as a young teenaged boy, along with some friends, I had witnessed a rally by some Hindu organisation demanding the banning of cow slaughter in Bengal in which the rallyists were shouting the slogan - " The cow is our mother". To this we vociferously replied that the rallyists needn't shout that out as it was visible from their visages!! Now things have changed drastically and it has become dangerous and even fatal to eat beef or talk about doing so. Even Nizam's in Kolkata gave up serving beef for some time though they have now started doing so again. The BJP Government has also stepped up the surveillance of the India-Banlgadesh border to stop the smuggling of cattle to Bangladesh where beef is eaten freely and there is supply shortage internally. The Home Minister, not only exhorted the Border Security Force to be extra vigilant about stopping cattle smuggling but also said that there should be an effort to reform the Banglaseshis and wean them away from eating cow's meat!!!
The many fears that were expressed when the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power with an absolute majority last year, about the impending attacks by Hindu majoritarian organisations on the plurality and freedom of expression and beliefs in this country, are coming out to be true. Ministers of the Government, law makers and the leaders of many of these organisations are continually harping on an aggressive sectarianisation of the culture of this country.
Dalits and Muslims have always been at the receiving end of many kinds of injustices and atrocities even in the best of times. However, the situation now is very dangerous as the Hindu majoritarian organisations have taken it on themselves to foment trouble and they don't baulk at anything to spread murder and mayhem. These attacks on beef eaters who are mainly Muslims and Dalits will almost certainly be followed by other attacks on these communities and a general attempt to strait jacket society into a mould that is authoritarian.