This is difficult to digest but I have this dirty habit of separating the people of Pakistan from the government of Pakistan

Confessions of a Beef eating Pakistan visiting Sickular IndianImage: Twitter/Rahul Kanwal
Blog Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 10:12

Dear Commissioner Bassi,

It’s with great trepidation that I write to you. Given recent developments in the country, this is a matter that concerns my personal security. I plead you to go over the contents of this letter with an open mind and take appropriate action at the soonest – as any delay could be life threatening.

What gives me courage to write this today is your commendable action of sending off a posse of men to Kerala House on a mare whiff of beef being served there – never mind the scent was that of a buffalo – it convinced me that only an honest, non-biased, non-partisan officer like you can save me from an imminent attack. If you can save Kerala House from the wrath of the Hindu Sena, (an organization much feared/respected by authorities) then I am sure the safety of an individual is a small matter for you.  

Firstly let me make a confession. It’s an admission of guilt that I should have made - the moment I returned to India after my assignment in 2008. You see those were heady days and I was a young firebrand reporter, I had little respect for what was ancient, glorious or religious; the only thing that mattered were new challenges and opportunities. Once such came up when the (then) President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf was being impeached from office. I made my way to Islamabad and covered the whole episode with much enthusiasm. Such was the bonhomie in the pre-26/11 days that we were granted entry in the Pakistani Parliament and Presidential complex on the mere presentation of our AajTak press cards. (Please see picture attached!)


Finally, when after a lot of hemming and hawing , the obstinate General quit; there was great deal of celebration in Pakistan. It was as if an election result had been declared and a corrupt government had been booted out - a sight familiar in India. I however made the mistake in partaking in these festivities and before I knew it I had gulped down a few sumptuous Chapli Kebabs with brilliantly made Sheermal ( I have attached picture for your reference)

It was only later that I realized that I had consumed beef! You can imagine my horror for having digressed from my religious beliefs, being a Hindu Brahmin I half expected to be reduced to ashes. When that didn’t happen I confessed to a few close friends about this gastronomical misadventure and they advised me that like many other mistakes of youth – this was a pardonable act, as long as no one got hurt. What’s more Sir, I again enjoyed this forbidden pleasure when I returned to Pakistan in 2012 to cover SM Krishna’s visit to the nation. Which brings me to my problem.

While I assure you Sir, that there never has been beef in my freezer, (anyways the humongous quantities of ‘matar’ stored there would make it practically impossible to do so) what I am apprehensive about is being attacked on the pretext of being a former beef eater. If buffalo meat can become beef in Kerala House – then I am clearly in dangerous territory!  Could you please advise me if I am legally/culturally safe in this matter?? – Does a culinary crime committed in Pakistan count here? If yes – then will you send in reinforcements with as much alacrity?  

I have come clean after all these years is because I know if the Delhi police wants – it can find rogue elements like me in minutes. Infact I am so impressed with your anti-beef drive, that I have asked my wife to ditch the pepper spray for good. If she comes even close to being teased, harassed, assaulted, I’ve asked her to scream ‘I have BEEF with me!!!’ I am sure your men will arrive on the spot in seconds.

But coming back to my safety; even if I am spared of the ignominy of an arrest by Delhi Police or a raid on my house by Gaurav-or-Ram-or-Rashtriya-or-Hindu Sena; there is still clear danger to me. Since my passport shows me visiting Pakistan twice (Lord!), I can be counted amongst ‘those anti-nationals’ whose heart bleeds for the enemy country.  What makes matters worse is that I have many friends in Pakistan (!) I know this is difficult to digest but I have this dirty habit of separating the people of Pakistan from the government of Pakistan. Not only do majority of these people oppose the government’s actions against India, for some strange reason, they are always hospitable, warm and accommodating towards us Indians. Perhaps it’s a ploy to recruit us into the ISI or they are not educated as the Indian masses; who see every Pakistani for what he/she is – a terrorist. Now we are asking even old chaps who’ve entertained generations of Indians to suddenly start denouncing and renouncing Pakistan – as if they are the ones ordering the hits on the LoC.  Bassi Ji I know the Shiv Sena will never listen to my lame excuses – but you being an educated man can surely see that I didn’t go wrong deliberately, it’s just my multicultural upbringing that is to blame!!

I also understand that the Shiv Sena isn’t too happy with people like me; after the Ghulam Ali’s concert in Mumbai got shelved – folks like me were instrumental in making his voice travel all over India on FM Radio via a ‘Radio Concert’. I know I should have kept my country in mind – but what’s done is done – could you, please tell the Shiv Sena that if they spare my face from Ink – I will do their bidding for years! I’ll even go dig the pitch at Wankede Stadium once again - like in 1999, to protest Pakistani cricket players in India. After that episode – no one has ever dared to attack Mumbai. I really should have more respect for the Sena.

Finally Commissioner sahab I have also been told that I am ‘Sickular’ too! While I am not exactly aware what that means exactly, I am sure it’s got something to do when you are terminally inclined to respect people of other faiths and their practices. I can blame my class eight civics book for this sort of horrendous indoctrination! These books taught us that India was a ‘Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic’…. It’s only now that I am now willing to admit that like Socialist, the S word that follows it is equally arcane and expendable –especially if you consider the great Hindu nation we are attempting to build.

Mr. Bassi, since parties like the Congress have only exploited the concept of secularism  for electoral gains and even today are unable to protect and speak for people like us – I turn to you for my physical safety. I vow never to look at beef (infact any meat), condemn my friends across the border as terrorists and shout slogans against the media mafia / artist mafia / scientist mafia who are floating his Congress sponsored bogey that there is rising intolerance in India.

I am so ready to make the jump from ‘Sickular’ to ‘Bhakt’ Sir, don’t for one moment doubt my ability in this matter – I have jumped from one college to another – one relationship to the other, infact I once jumped off the Virar Fast at Andheri! – Now THAT is something that should cement my request.

I don’t want to jump the gun, but I thank you in anticipation of seeing a PSO and a few guards at my door very soon!

Sincerely yours,

An endangered Indian 

(Akash Banerjee is the author of Tales from Shining and Sinking India: How News Channels Deliver the Big Breaking Stories.  He is a former journalist who worked with Times Now and India Today Television, between 2004 and 2013. He currently works as Associate Vice-President for the Times Group’s Radio Mirchi.)

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