Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 20th 2015 Contents A47
Friday, March 20, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
NEW DELHI---The head of India s
Catholic bishops, speaking out after
a nun was raped in the east of the
country last week, has said the country
should be as concerned about the wel-
fare of its people as it is about its cows.
The comments appeared directed
against hardline Hindu nationalists who
have stirred up animosity against India s
Christian and Muslim minorities, while
successfully lobbying for tougher laws
against killing cows.
Cows are considered sacred by many
Indians, but beef is eaten by some poor
and lower-caste Hindus as well as by
Christians and Muslims. Campaigns to
protect cattle are often used to vilify
"The country has a responsibility
towards all of us---every human being---
and not just cows," Cardinal Baselios
Cleemis told journalists. The comments,
reported in newspapers on Wednesday,
were confirmed by his office.
Cleemis spoke before visiting the
hospitalised nun who was raped at a
convent school in West Bengal, an attack
which has triggered protests on city
streets and in parliament.
Police have not established whether
the assault motive was religion or
money. Prime Minister Narendra Modi
of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP) said he was "deeply con-
cerned" and demanded a detailed report
into what happened.
The attack was the most serious in
a series of incidents that have spread
fear among Christians since activists,
emboldened by Modi s election victory
last year, began their "ghar wapsi"
(homecoming) campaign to convert fol-
lowers of "foreign religions" to Hin-
Indian Christians emphasise their
religion s long history in India and say
it is an integral part of the country.
Some Hindu hardliners, however, are
seeking to define the country as pri-
marily an Hindu nation, in which other
religions are guests.
Cleemis is head of the Syro-
Malankara Catholic Church, an Indian
branch of the faith that is in communion
with Roman Catholicism and that traces
its roots back to the Thomas the Apos-
tle, who tradition says arrived here in
the first century. (Reuters)
With a strict ban on beef in Mum-
bai that has closed down meat sellers
across India s most cosmopolitan city,
this nation is dealing with a sacred
The new ban is the strictest ever in
India and includes penalties even for
possessing beef. Breaking the law,
which languished for five years before
getting passed under a conservative
ruling Hindu party, brings a fine and
up to five years in prison.
Many Mumbai meat sellers are on
strike in response, and eateries that
feature kabobs and minced-meat del-
icacies in the Muslim quarter are losing
customers. Some have closed.
If the social agenda of Prime Minister
Narendra Modi, takes further hold, the
beef ban is likely to spread to other
states and add to recent Hindu-ori-
ented policies that have made an
impact on school curricula, language
requirements, and even played a role
in watching a BBC film on rape. A cen-
turies-old sectarian battle is shifting
to new grounds, say many analysts
Cows are considered sacred by Hin-
dus, who make up more than 80 per
cent of India s 1.2 billion population.
But Muslims and Christians and many
of India s tribes and castes are beef
eaters. In states like Kerala in the south
and West Bengal in the northeast, cattle
slaughter is legal and beef is eaten reg-
ularly---even by Hindus.
"This is not about protecting cows.
It is all about playing politics," says MB
Rajesh, a member of parliament from
Kerala. "What one should eat or wear
are personal choices and they simply
cannot be imposed."
Prime Minister Modi, a professed
vegetarian who led his BJP Hindu party
to a landslide win in last year s general
election, has long spoken against beef
exports and has expressed hope for a
national ban on cow slaughter. Last
spring, many Indians took this as only
But the states of Maharashtra where
Mumbai is situated, and Haryana,
where beef was recently banned, are
ruled by his BJP party.
Ironically perhaps, India is the world s
second-largest producer of beef after
Brazil. Yet due to religious sentiments
and bans in various states, most of
India s beef is exported to countries
including Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia,
Bangladesh, Thailand, and Egypt.
Much of the meat now sparking
political divisions is not actually from
cows. Much of it is from water buffalo,
which in Hindu mythology is the "lord
of death" and not regarded as holy.
Indian nuns take part in a vigil and protest against the gang-rape of a nun at a convent-school in Kolkata,
Monday. AFP PHOTO
India cardinal says
not just cows
Under heavy Hindu sway,
Mumbai bans beef
Links Archive March 19th 2015 March 21st 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page