A Dalit group in Mysuru city has organized a beef festival – where cow meat will be served – as a protest against the rising attacks on Dalits and Muslims over beef.
Shantaraju of the Karnataka Dalit Welfare Trust told The News Minute that the fest would be organized on August 7 as a mark of protest against the attacks on Dalits and Muslims over beef, including those in Una and Chikmgalur. “If this continues we will ask for a separate electorate, the way Ambedkar wanted.”
About 100 people are expected to participate where cow-meat would be served. Beef refers to meat of bovines. “We will serve cow meat. It is our staple.” Dalits were leather workers and made all kinds of leather goods such as shoes, belts, tamate (a type of percussion instrument), and more. “Our diet includes beef as an extension of our work. How can they attack our food habits like this?” Shantaraju says. Chicken, mutton and other meat became part of their diet much later, he added.
Shantaraju is the Editor of Nija Dani (True Voice) a four-page Dalit daily brought out from Mysuru city. He had also organized the Mahishasura Day last year on Dasara day to celebrate the king, who is considered a Dalit-Bahujan icon.
To arguments that Hindutva groups make over beef, Shantaraju says: “You worship cows, snake (naga), rat (for Ganapathy). Who are we to stop you? You have your culture, let us have ours.”
He said that such groups had a double standard. “You want us to clean your shit and skin your dead cows. Why do you force us to do it? Why don’t you do it yourself?” he asked.
The fest had been scheduled for July 31, but was postponed due to the death of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s son Rakesh. He said that the fest will be organized in front of the Town Hall, next to the Ambedkar statue. The group will approach the Mysuru police on Friday to seek permission.