Explainer: The Hyderabad beef fest and the controversy around it

FIR's, death threats, an invitation to Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah and a protest 'pork fest' have followed
Explainer: The Hyderabad beef fest and the controversy around it
Explainer: The Hyderabad beef fest and the controversy around it
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Hyderabad’s Osmania University has been the centre of attention for the past few days after a student groups announced that they were organizing a beef fest on December 10. FIR's, death threats, an invitation to Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah and a protest 'pork fest' followed.

On Wednesday, university authorities made it clear that they would not allow the beef festival to be held on campus, but this does not seem to have deterred the organizers who are still going ahead with the planning.

The entire issue started on November 21, when a section of students announced that they would host a ‘Beef festival’ on the university campus on December 10, World Human Rights Day – to uphold the right to food as one of the human rights. The students made it clear that only buffalo and bullock meat would be served at the festival.

Those who were sent invites include writer Arundhati Roy, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and MP from Tamil Nadu and Dalit activist Thol. Tirumavalavan. RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav also reportedly been invited.

Even as preparations were on, BJP MLA from Hyderabad's Goshamahal constituency Raja Singh on November 30, gave a memorandum to the in-charge vice-chancellor of the university demanding cancellation of the beef festival.

Following this, the student representatives lodged a police complaint against the legislator. They alleged that he was trying to disrupt peace on the campus by provoking people from various communities by putting up photos, holding swords on Facebook and Twitter, against the beef festival to be organized on the campus.

The same evening the whole issue escalated several notches after the BJP MLA told a news channel that "No one should hurt religious sentiments and we have every right to stop it. I want to tell the organizers that Dadri should not repeat in Telangana and we are ready for it. We are ready to kill or get killed to protect the cow."

He also went on to add that "I am Hindu first and it is my duty to protect the cow...I'm not worried whether the party is going to support me or not."

However, the state BJP unit has distanced itself from his remark with state president Kishan Reddy saying "You can eat whatever you want. The BJP or the Modi government will not interfere with it. Don’t take the opposition of a few people in this matter seriously."

He also took a jibe at Raja Singh, saying "Of late, he stopped taking part in party activities. He is acting as if he is an independent."

A report in the Times of India adds that Singh, a former Bajrang Dal member, has a tainted past and was arrested in 2008 on charges of murdering two Christian pastors. Prior to that, he was held for murdering a businessman. He was, however, acquitted in all these cases. He was also accused of inciting communal violence and has been named in many cases relating to communal clashes.

Following Raja Singh's open threat, student organisations are making preparations for a 5-km run on Necklace Road onDecember 7 in support of eating beef and to spread the word about the fete but it is unlikely that the police will give them permission.

They have also promised to receive Raja Singh with open arms for the event and are also in the process of arranging 1,000 kg of beef for it.

Meanwhile, another 'pork festival' has popped up in response to the beef festival on the same day .

Another report in the Times of India adds:

The Pork Fest is being supported by 36 unions under the aegis of OU-JAC. “We are not opposing the beef fest, but we are opposing eating of beef as it is illegal as per our Constitution. We want to create awareness among people to eat pork which is more healthy and nutritious than beef. The pork fest has been organized on demand from students," said Srinivas Solanki, member of the organizing committee of Pork Fest.

Article 48 of the Constitution directs the state to “take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and other milch and draught cattle”. The term beef however, is a common term for the meat of cattle and buffalo.

Solanki says around five quintals of pork would be procured for the event, he said.

However the university has stated strictly that any activity "unrelated to academics and research will not be permitted on the campus."

Adding to the list of parties weighing in on the event, animal rights activists joined in on Wednesday and opposed both fests and has demanded that OU authorities stop it.

The police, fearing a clash, have stepped up security on campus and are unlikely to give permission to either of the parties.

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