SUMIR KARMAKAR, TT, Guwahati, April 11: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) today said it would be able to convince communities in the Northeast to support the ban on consumption of beef.
"We believe a countrywide ban can only check cow slaughter and we are confident that we will be able to convince those who consume beef in the Northeast. Some communities like Cheng Khasi in Meghalaya and Rangphar in Arunachal Pradesh used to worship cows in ancient times. They, however, started consuming beef with the expansion of Christianity," spokesperson for the Assam RSS unit, Ranjib Sarma, told The Telegraph.
The comment comes at a time when several NGOs and organisations have condemned the threat to and abuse of women rights activist Bondita Acharya and advocate Nandita Talukdar by some suspected members/supporters of right-wing groups on Facebook recently. Both had written posts condemning the arrest of three persons, including a minor, in Jorhat on April 4 for allegedly hurting the religious sentiments by "openly carrying" beef through a street in Gohain Tekela. The two persons were sent to judicial custody for 14 days while the minor was sent to an observation home for juveniles.
Women in Governance, an NGO founded by Bondita, yesterday said consumption of beef is just another food habit and intrinsically associated with cultural practices of some indigenous communities and certain minority groups.
"They had voiced their opinion against the arrests. As a result, they faced abuse and threats of rape, death and acid attack. It is criminal to use sexual and other forms of violence as a tool to suppress democratic voices of women," said a joint statement issued today by eight NGOs.
The eight organisations are the All India Democratic Women's Association, Asom Mahila Sangha, Assam Mahila Samata Society, Foundation for Social Transformation, Northeast Network, Utsah, Chetana Pragatishil Nari Mancha, Dibrugarh, and Women in Governance. Arman Ali of Sishu Sarothi, an NGO working for special children, and Banamallika Choudhury, a women rights activist, also signed the statement.
Asked about its stand, the Assam BJP said no such ban has been imposed by the Centre. "Though some leaders personally favour a countrywide ban on cow slaughter, we can't make a statement till the party and the government (Centre) make things clear. We hope this issue will come up in our party's national executive in Bhubaneswar on April 15 and 16," party spokesperson Rupam Goswami said.
A beef ban might not be palatable for the 34 per cent Muslim population and 3.74 per cent Christians in Assam.
The All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and Asom Jati-yatabadi Yuba Chatra Pari-shad (AJYCP) termed the move to ban beef undemocratic, autocratic and aimed at dividing society based on religion.
"Our government can't dictate what one will eat. It is a democratic country and imposing a certain food habit can't be accepted. We are opposed to any such move," AASU general secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi said.
AJYCP president Biraj Kumar Talukdar said it was a move to divide society on religious line for politics.
The Congress and the All Assam Minority Students' Union are also opposed to such a ban.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AVISHEK SENGUPTA