Monday, March 19, 2012

[ZESTCaste] Beef sentiment becomes ‘fleshpoint’ at Osmania

Beef sentiment becomes 'fleshpoint' at Osmania
JBS Umanadh, HYDERABAD, Mar 18, 2012, DHNS:

'Bone' of contention

After the Telangana agitation, it is the "beef sentiment" that is
doing the rounds on the Osmania University campus which has been calm
for over eight months since the dilution of the agitation for a
separate state.

The flashpoint this time is the demand of 2,000-strong Dalit students
of the university for beef to be served in university canteens which
is opposed by the Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

In protest against the upper class attitude, Dalit students plan to
hold a "beef festival" on the campus in April to coincide with the
birth anniversary celebrations of Babu Jagjivan Ram on April 5, Dr B R
Ambedkar on April 14 and Jyotiba Phule on April 11.

The Dalit students plan to cook beef in the open and serve it to the
gathering as an expression of their cultural identity and traditional

But the university authorities have refused permission for such a
festival in the face of hostile postures by the ABVP.

University Vice-Chancellor S Satyanarayana said the issue was very
sensitive and, given the history of caste tensions on the campus, the
authorities fear that the issue may become a flashpoint for another
bout of campus mob fury.

Dalit campaigners, however, say by denying permission, the university
is resorting to cultural imposition on Dalits and treating them as
apartheid in their own land.

"Dalit students have a right to practise their food habits as
protected under the Constitution," said Dalit writer and academic
Kancha Ilaiah.

At present, chicken, mutton and eggs are served as part of the
non-vegetarian menu at the university hostels. The politics of food on
the Osmania campus, known as the nerve centre of Telangana movement
and also a hotbed of radicalism, has triggered a totally new vista of

Charging the authorities with imposing a culture of "food fascism"
prominent Dalit activist Bojja Tarakam said it was an attempt to
lampooning the Dalits in the name of caste and religion.

"Beef has nothing to do with hurting any sentiments as majority of
meat eating population in the world, including India, are beef
lovers," he said. The Osmania vice-chancellor has asked senior faculty
members to hold talks with the student representatives and sort out
the matters amicably.

In the past, there were some instances of scuffle between the ABVP and
Dalit students on the issue of organising beef festival on the campus
and the event was put off. "In their petition submitted to the
vice-chancellor, the Dalit students alleged that their food habits and
traditions were being ridiculed and insulted by ABVP members," said a
university spokesman.


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