Fundamentalist Hindus attack campus beef-eating festival in India

Hyderabad police fighting back against fundamentalist gangs
Reuters Pictures used by permission

A beef-eating festival at a university in the Indian city of Hyderabad has led to clashes between rival sets of Hindu students, police say…Hindus who regard cows as sacred fought with low caste Dalit groups who organised the event.

About 1,500 people were fed beef biriyani as part of the festival late on Sunday evening.

Dalit groups want beef on the campus hostel menu. Right wing Hindu groups say eating beef is not Hindu practice…

The BBC’s Omer Farooq in the city says that says there has been tension for a few days now on the campus…He says that has been the case ever since organisers announced that the festival – held over the weekend – would go ahead. Right wing Hindu groups soon afterwards declared their intention to stop it.

The clashes that were feared erupted on Sunday evening and carried on late into the early hours of Monday morning, reports say.

Police say that the violence began when about 100 members of the right wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) marched towards the festival ground and were stopped by police.

The protesters then set two vehicles on fire and threw stones at police, who used batons and teargas to beat back the crowd…

Dalit groups want beef included in the food served at the campus hostel. Festival organiser B Sudarshan told the BBC that they were involved in a fight for the “freedom to eat…Everyone should have the freedom to eat the food of their choice. Beef has traditionally been a part of Dalit food, it’s a part of their identity,” he said…

Is anyone ever surprised that fundamentalist political activity – especially violent communal attacks – joins religious people with rightwing ideology?

Whether you peer around the stuffy confines of America’s religious community, Israel’s quasi-theocracy – or silliness perpetuated by state religions in India or Pakistan – the only time anyone is surprised is when you accidentally bump into fundamentalist ideology that [gasp] embraces peace, equal opportunity or freedom for all.