Claiming he would “kill or be killed to protect cows”, a BJP MLA has decided to oppose a beef festival planned by students of Osmania University in Hyderabad on December 10. The BJP has, however, distanced itself from the MLA’s stand.
Goshamahal MLA T Raja Singh said he would not allow the festival to happen at any cost. “We don’t want an incident like Dadri here, but I am willing to kill or be killed to protect cows. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot stop me from preventing this beef festival,” he said. “I don’t care what the party says. People have a right to choose what they want to eat but it should not hurt anyone’s religious sentiments.”
On Wednesday, Raja Singh led a group of members of the BJP, VHP and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, and submitted a memorandum to Higher Education Principal Secretary Ranjeev Acharya, who is the vice-chancellor in-charge of Osmania University, requesting her to stop the event. “Students of Left parties of OU are planning to conduct a beef festival on December 10 and they are doing this with political intentions,” Raja Singh said in the memorandum.
When contacted, Acharya said she had received the memorandum and would look into the matter.
The Telangana BJP distanced itself from Raja Singh and accused him of indulging in anti-party activities. Telangana BJP president G Kishan Reddy said Raja Singh had gone his way like an independent candidate and stopped participating in party activities.
“As far as I know, the beef festival will have buffalo meat, not cow meat. As long as there is no cow meat, the BJP does not have a problem. We will neither support nor oppose the beef festival,” Reddy said. He added that Raja Singh neither sought permission nor informed the BJP leadership that he would oppose the fest.
Raja Singh, however, said that the organisers had not given any commitment that they would not serve cow meat.
A Shankar of the All Indian Students Federation, which is organising the beef festival, said it would be held on December 10 to coincide with World Human Rights Day to uphold democratic principles. “There are attempts to stop the dietary habits of some sections of people and this is our way of showing that we won’t let that happen. Leaders of all parties are invited. Twenty-five student organisations are participating in the fest, which is important for SC, ST, BC and minority communities,” Shankar said.
Another organiser Mohammed Musavir Ali said the fest would include both cow and buffalo meat. “Both cow and buffalo meat will be served. More than 7,000 students will participate,” he said.
The students’ organisations will also hold a 5-km run on December 7 to garner support for the beef festival, while MLA Raja Singh has vowed to take out a rally to oppose it.
Police Commissioner M Mahender Reddy said that neither party has applied for permission for the rallies.
The Osmania beef festival has virtually become an annual ritual. In 2012, the first year it was held, ABVP activists clashed with festival supporters.
Meanwhile, another group of students has decided to organise a ‘pork festival’ on December 10. Pork is nutritious and “pig-rearing provides livelihood to certain communities”, said Solanki Srinivas, a leader of the group. Asked is the event was a counter to the beef festival, Srinivas said it cannot be helped if the organisers think so. “You eat your food. We eat ours,” he said.