Chandigarh: If the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP goverment in Haryana on Saturday finds itself in a soup over its strange decision to test samples of biryani in Muslim dominated Mewat district of Haryana to find out if they contain beef, it has itself to blame. Just a few days before the Muslim festival of Bakrid, the government move has generated a lot of controversy and ill-will.
The opposition has squarely blamed the BJP government in the state of disturbing the communal harmony. Only a few months ago the Jat reservation agitation had created a lot of violence and destruction in Haryana when the Jats were pitted against backward communities.
Cow slaughter and consumption of beef is a criminal offence in Haryana. In 2015, the BJP government in the state enforced Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gau Samvardhan Act 2015 making cow slaughter punishable with rigorous imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh to the offender of the law.
Earlier the Haryana government had received some complaints that beef was being served in meals in Mewat. So on 24 August, the government issued orders to collect biryani samples from hotels to check whether beef was being served in shops and markets. Seven biryani samples were collected from food stalls for laboratory test.
Incidentally all seven samples of biryani collected by the Mewat police were alleged to have been found positive for beef reportedly at the Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (LLRU). However, there was no official confirmation of the report yet.
However, Khattar said it was yet to be found out if the collected samples contained beef. Mewat district officials are a bit circumspect on the controversial issue now. Deputy Commissioner Mani Ram Sharma said the campaign for the collection of samples of biryani was run by Gau Seva Ayog chairman Bhani Ram Mangla.
A Hindustan Times report quoted Mewat animal husbandry department’s deputy director Narender Kumar saying more samples would be collected if such complaints were received again. The police’s Cow Protection Task Force (CPTF) has spruced up its network of informers in areas where beef consumption is suspected to be high, official sources said according to the report.
Meanwhile talking to the media in Chandigarh on Friday, Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij said in the light of the fact findings, the concerned officers have been asked to take action as per law.
"The police officers are in charge of implementing the law. It is part of their duty to check that beef is not consumed as it is illegal in Haryana. Strict action will be taken against the offenders," said Vij.
At a joint press conference in Chandigarh, both former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and former minister Randeep Singh Surjewala condemned the state government’s move to check biryani samples. "The BJP government in Haryana is trying to divide communities on the lines of religion. We condemn this move in the strongest possible manner," said Hooda.
"The BJP has always been indulging in sinister conspiracy to persecute and prosecute people with an aim to divide the society," said Surjewala.
Leader of opposition in Haryana and Indian National Lok Dal’s senior leader Abhay Singh Chautala also condemned the government’s action. "The BJP government is raising the issue of beef to divide communities and disturb peace in the state," he said. The CPM also condemned the BJP government’s move.
CPTF, nodal officer, Bharti Arora said she could not comment on the report of lab test as she had not seen it.
"We received some reports and went ahead to confirm it. We have no intention of snooping in any kitchen unless we get specific complaints," said Bharti.
Meanwhile the Mewat Vikas Sabha has threatening to make Mewat 'cow-free'. The district lawyers are also planning a PIL against the ‘attempt to disrupt communal harmony’ of the district.