Bengaluru: Following criticism from Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, the party's Kerala unit on Monday suspended three of its workers who slaughtered a calf in public on Sunday as part of organising “beef fests" in protest against the Centre’s new cattle slaughter norms.
A video of the incident, where the workers were seen killing the animal while shouting slogans against the Centre, generated strong reactions. Although Kerala does not have a ban on cow slaughter, the local police registered a case, based on a complaint by Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP)’s Yuva Morcha leaders, under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960.
The new rules, which analysts say will choke cattle trade, have found few takers in Kerala where beef dishes are popular. The Congress party in Kerala, along with ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), have been using the new norms to mount a fresh attack against BJP, which has been making inroads into the state. The public slaughter, however, shifted the narrative from the restrictions arising out of cattle norms to unnecessary cruelty towards animals, precisely what the BJP wanted.
“People respect and worship the cow. Is this not an affront to their religious practice?" asked BJP leader Nalin Kohli. State president of BJP Kummanam Rajasekharan said, “it is cruelty at its peak" and asked if the party would do something to animals worshipped by non-Hindu religions.
By Sunday night, the party was in an apologetic mood. Finally, Gandhi, the second in command in Congress, condemned the incident on Twitter Sunday night.
“What happened in Kerala is thoughtless, barbaric and completely unacceptable to me and Congress Party. I strongly condemn the incident," tweeted Gandhi.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Congress’ acting president in Kerala M.M. Hassan said the action was not in accordance with the Congress tradition and culture and the three persons who led the protest has been given the strictest punishment, suspension from the party.