Why is Shivsena against Muslims

Repression against Muslims in India: class struggle for the holy cow

After winning an important regional election, the Hindu nationalist BJP has slaughterhouses closed. Muslim meat dealers are now on strike.

Many of his colleagues are on strike, Photo: dpa

NEW DELHIdpa | Hardly anyone walks down the street with the meat shops in the city of Noida. It is a good 30 kilometers to the center of the Indian capital New Delhi. Green tarpaulins hang in front of the shops. For a good week, the dealers hid behind the material, as the television reporter from the broadcaster NDTV says. The shops have been completely closed for a few days.

In the largest Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), a conflict that has been brewing since the election of the Indian government in 2014 is currently coming to a head. At that time, the Hindu nationalist party BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi replaced the previous government that had ruled the country for more than ten years.

Modi had started with the promise to resolve the reform backlog in the country. Critics warned that life under him would be much more difficult, especially for the religious minority of Muslims - the BJP is considered to be much more Hindu than the previous government under the Congress party.

These fears are currently being fueled in UP. The BJP has been ruling there for almost two weeks. In a landslide victory, the party won 312 of 403 seats - and then installed the polarizing Hindu priest Yogi Adityanath as head of government.

As one of his first acts, Adityanath closed a dozen of the 41 large slaughterhouses and countless small meat shops in Uttar Pradesh. "Our raids are directed against illegal slaughterhouses," he said in a speech. “We cannot allow this illegal business.” In response, the meat traders started an indefinite strike on Monday.

Shackled by the Hindus

The BJP implements an election promise. On the one hand, they want to protect the lives of cows that are sacred in Hinduism. BJP politicians had repeatedly said that beef was processed illegally in the slaughterhouses. On the other hand, the slaughterhouses are a threat to the environment. Rotting animal carcasses and blood would make the population sick, says BJP spokesman GVL Narishma Rao.

Unofficially, however, the line of conflict does not run between cow protectors and slaughterers, but between Hindu hardliners and the Muslim minority. A large part of the butchers in India has been Muslim for centuries - and now they feel bullied by the Hindu majority. "A political and religious agenda is being implemented here under the guise of animal welfare," says Sanober Ali Qureshi from the meat traders' association AIJQAC. “The current government action in UP affects nearly a million people. We are afraid, feel rejected and discriminated against. "

Sanober Ali Qureshi, butcher

"A political and religious agenda is being implemented here under the guise of animal welfare."

The mood is not only heated in UP. Since Tuesday, the radical Hindu group Shiv Sena in Gurgaon, another suburb of New Delhi, has been forcing its fellow citizens to abstain from meat. One expects consideration for the nine-day Hindu festival Navratri, during which devout Hindus eat exclusively vegetarian food, said a spokesman. That's why non-vegetarian restaurants and shops have been asked to close for so long. In four other states there were similar actions, reported the television station "India Today". In all of them the BJP rules.

"That doesn't mean that the BJP is behind the closings of the meat shops," says political writer Saba Naqvi. “The party does nothing to show that it is against this harassment.” The political climate is currently also favoring more radical Hindu groups who want to gain influence.

BJP spokesman Rao contradicts: “Nobody is allowed to take the law into their own hands. We are only in a transition period from a Uttar Pradesh without laws to one in which the laws apply. "For the AIJQAC man Qureshi this is at most partially true for the Muslim minority:" The measures against the meat traders violate their right to a professional existence. "