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Using beef issue Adivasis in Jharkhand are being forced to follow Hindu traditions

Jamshedpur: Jeetrai Hansda, a drama teacher wrote on Facebook asking people where he can buy beef for organizing beef festival. These lines on facebook triggered storm in Jamshedpur.

Jeetrai who is a teacher at the Graduate School College for Women in Jamshedpur is being targeted by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) as he not only ate beef but also dared to declare it publicly.

As the protest against beef gripping across the nation, on 1st June, Jeetrai posted this status on facebook.

According to Scroll.in, he said that beef eating is a part of culture of Santhali. He also questioned, “If Santhalis are Indian, there should be no laws which force us to adopt Hindu customs. I reject that.”

Jeetrai further said that the issue of cow slaughter is not limited to eating habit but also to culture as cattle sacrifice is a part of the Santhal festival of Doson. Munda community also sacrifices cattle. Ban on beef is interference in the culture of Adivasis and enforcement of Hindu customs forcefully, he added.

It to be noted that the protest against beef eating not only affects Muslims and Dalit but also other communities like Adivasis of Jharkhand which is not documented well.

In Jharkhand, Hindutva organizations are influencing Adivasis subtly by using beef issue to get political benefits for BJP.

Law to ban cow slaughter

It may be noted that Jharkhand passed cow slaughter law in 2005. Under this law, slaughter and transportation of cow attracts 10 years imprisonment despite the fact that Jharkhand is the state of Adivasis for whom eating beef is part of their culture.

Similar law is also passed by Gujarat wherein, slaughtering of cow will land citizens in jail for life.

Raimul Bandra, a member of Ho community said that when law was passed, people did not realize the impact it will have on the eating habits of the community. Adivasis eat beef as it is cheaper.

Discrimination based on religion

The conflict of cow slaughter law and the religious practices of the Adivasis first came to limelight in 2015 when a Munda village conducted a Dangri Puja in which oxen are sacrificed. Under the pressure from local BJP leaders, under anti-cow slaughter law of Jharkhand, police arrested eight Adivasis.

In 2015, the same law led to clash in East Singhbhum district as BJP leader and former Lok Sabha MP, Salkhan Murmu tried to stop Adivasis from sacrificing cattle.

Discrimination at workplace

On 25th June, the principal of the school in Pakur district of Jharkhand was arrested on allegation that he cooked beef at the institution.

In a similar case, Jeetrai Hansda is facing difficulties after posting the status on beef on Facebook.

Creating rift in community

Bineet Mundu, an activist in an NGO said that BJP tried to play religious card to enter areas of Adivasis. Mundu added that BJP encouraged tensions between converted Christians and Adivasis. To enter areas of Adivasis, now, BJP is using Beef issue, he added.

Imposing elite culture

Jharkhand state which was created in 2002 to protect the rights and culture of Adivasis is now being controlled by the elite.

A local leader of Karandi said that culture, food and festival of Adivasis is different from the Hindus and forcing them to follow Hindus culture is outrageous. He also said that they are being forced to convert to Hindus.

From legal perspective, cow slaughter law cannot be implemented in the states which are listed in V schedule of Constitution of India as it is in conflict with the traditional practices of the local people.