Left-wing student and youth organisations held protests throughout Kerala on Saturday (27 May 2017) to protest the central government’s order banning the sale of cattle for slaughter in markets.
The beef festivals organised in several hundred centres across the state by the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) witnessed large participation of students, youth, prominent personalities from various fields and the general public.
Within a few hours after the central government’s decision became widely known yesterday, the SFI had announced that its 210 Area Committees would hold beef festivals at their respective Area centres on Saturday.
“This is an intrusion into our kitchens and our rights. What I eat will be decided by me. There is no space for the dark spears of fascism here”, said M Vijin, the Kerala State Secretary of SFI in a statement on Friday. He added:
“We will eat beef – it is an act of protest for us now. When we held beef festivals earlier, right wing parties including the Congress and the Muslim League campaigned against us. Why are you organising beef festivals in Kerala in response to incidents which occurred elsewhere, they asked, and they claimed that it would foment communalism. What we are seeing today is also a result of their silence during those times.
Everybody knows that to protect the cattle wealth of the country, we need support to the farmers, not prohibitions such as this. Communalism is sought to be spread through this step, just as claims about fake nationalism, black money and Digital India were sought to be spread through demonetisation. The agenda of the RSS and the BJP is clear from this.”
P A Mohamed Riyas, the All India President of DYFI, said in his statement:
“Modiji, we will eat beef, and we will wage struggles!
The objectives that the Modi government seeks to accomplish through its order are two-fold. The first is to distract people from their anger against the three years of anti-people governance by the BJP, and the second, to implement the RSS agenda as a government-sponsored programme. Two birds in one shot! After coming to power promising 6 crore jobs for the youth in three years, the BJP has failed to give jobs to even 6 lakh people. The lightning strike on the dining table is a reflection of the BJP’s hope that the youth of the country can be communally polarised instead of being concerned about mounting unemployment.”
Saturday’s protest by SFI at Ernakulam, the commercial capital of the state, was inaugurated by Kadakampally Surendran, the Minister for Tourism and Co-operation. He was joined by P Rajeev, the Ernakulam District Secretary of the CPI(M). “The central government’s move is one that will encourage the growth of monopolies in beef trade. Lakhs of people will be rendered jobless as a result of this order”, said the Minister.
The DYFI’s protest at Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital, was held in front of the Secretariat.
Police personnel also were happy to tuck into some delicious beef and tapioca offered by DYFI activists.
SFI activists cooked and served beef in front of the University College in Thiruvananthapuram.
The beef festival organised by SFI at Kottayam, known for its many traditional beef delicacies, exuded determination and solidarity.
The protest at the Cochin University of Science and Technology was inaugurated by M Swaraj, MLA of Thripunithura.
Innocent, Lok Sabha MP from Chalakudy, was among those who participated in the beef festival organised by SFI and DYFI in Perumbavoor, Ernakulam. He also spoke at the protest held by the Joint Trade Unions of Perumbavoor.
The SFI protest at Calicut University campus was inaugurated by KEN Kunhahamed, noted writer and thinker. KEN spoke on the topic “The Democracy of Food” at the ongoing five-day workshop organised by the Gramscian Study Centre and SFI at the University campus.
Activists of the SFI and DYFI took out a march in Payyannur in Kannur district condemning the move to deny to the people the right to choose their food.
The beef festival which followed the march was a big hit, with large crowds thronging the stall.
DYFI activists at Mayyil, Kannur protested by conducting a sale of beef at Mayyil town.
The DYFI’s protest march against the central government’s declaration of an Emergency on Food enthralled Kannur city. The march was followed by a beef festival.
Long queues were seen in front of the stall at the beef festival organised by SFI at Neeleswaram in Kasaragod district.
“Nobody has any authority to decide what people should eat or how they should live. Imposing one’s agenda and choices on others is not democracy. When pluralism and the democratic rights of choice and faith are under threat, it is time that we took the battle to the streets. We will not surrender to fascistic diktats”, remarked Jaick C Thomas, SFI Kerala State President.
Kerala is expected to see more protests in the coming days against the authoritarian fiat of the Modi government.
[Pictures courtesy: P Rajeev, Innocent MP, Maneesh Korothan Kunnummal, Athirukalillaatha Kalaalayam, Midhun Nelluvai.]