The Pink Revolution is Marching On

Forget about your right to eat what you want. The fight is now over your right to not be killed for what you eat

Relatives mourn the death of farmer Mohammad Akhlaq at his home in Bisara village in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, about 45 kilometers from New Delhi on Wednesday. Villagers beat Akhlaq to death and severely injured his son upon hearing rumours that the family was eating beef. Credit: PTI

Relatives mourn the death of farmer Mohammad Akhlaq at his home in Bisara village in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, about 45 kilometers from New Delhi on Wednesday. Villagers beat Akhlaq to death and severely injured his son upon hearing rumours that the family was eating beef. Credit: PTI

If Narendra Modi last year conjured up the spectre of a ‘pink revolution’ – cow killing on a mass scale – in the event of the BJP’s defeat in the 2014 election, what metaphor will he use to describe the murder of a Muslim father at Dadri on the outskirts of Delhi for the imaginary crime of keeping beef in his home? Were he to call the ugly incident by its proper name – a lynching – he would have to cross an ideological line that he and his party have helped place at the centre-stage of Indian politics over the past year and a half: That the slaughter of cows poses a more serious threat to the country than the slaughter of human beings in the name of cow protection.

The Prime Minister owes it to the people of this country to say it isn’t so. To declare loudly and clearly that even if that piece of meat which the Uttar Pradesh police have now mischievously taken away for ‘forensic’ analysis turns out to have come from a cow, the mob had no right to invade the home of Mohammed Akhlaq and murder him.

Modi has a responsibility to speak out this time because the violence that occurred on Monday night is a direct product of the hysteria which is being deliberately engineered in different parts of the country over the issue of cow slaughter – an issue he brought up repeatedly in stump speeches during the 2014 general election.

Modi’s 2014 rhetoric

In an attempt to better understand the politics behind the campaign, I went back and listened to some of those speeches. Both in western Uttar Pradesh – not far from Dadri – and again in Bihar, Modi spoke at length about the dangers of “pink revolution”.

The speeches are amazing for the ease with which Modi slides between fact and fiction, using the words ‘pashu’ and ‘gai’ and even ‘mutton’ interchangeably to paint a picture of Indian villages being emptied out of their cows as the Congress government in Delhi – in pursuit of ‘vote bank politics’ – is hell-bent on promoting a ‘pink revolution’ or ‘gulabi kranti’.

“The agenda of the Congress is Pink Revolution,” he said. “We have heard of the Green Revolution and White Revolution but never pink and this means the slaughter of animals (pashu). You see, the colour of mutton is pink, and they are committing the sin of exporting it and bringing revolution… Because of this, our animal wealth is being slaughtered, our cows are being slaughtered, or sent abroad to be slaughtered… And now the Congress is saying, ‘If you vote for us, we will give you permission to kill cows’.”

In his Bihar speech, Modi asks how the leaders of the ‘Yaduvansh’ – the Yadavs – like Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad can ally with the Congress. “I want to ask [them], how can you support such people who want to bring pink revolution? When a pashu is cut, the colour of its meat is called pink revolution… In village after village, animal wealth (pashu dhan) is being slaughtered, pashu are being stolen and taken to Bangladesh, big slaughter houses have been opened across the country… The Congress won’t give subsidies to a farmer or to a Yadav who wants to tend his cows. But if someone opens a slaughter house to kill cows, kill pashu, then the [Congress] government gives them a subsidy.”

Imposing food choices

Leaving aside the hypocrisy involved in the Modi government presiding over a huge increase in ‘carabeef’ (buffalo meat) exports, the BJP – since coming to power at the Centre, and in states like Mahararashtra and Haryana – has moved to impose its dietary preferences on people at large.

WATCH WHAT YOU EAT: The remains of the Akhlaq family's fridge after a mob attacked the house. Credit: PTI

WATCH WHAT YOU EAT: The remains of the Akhlaq family’s fridge after a mob attacked the house. Credit: PTI

Where earlier, farmers were allowed to sell bulls and even cows above a certain age to slaughter houses, the law in these two states now compels them to bear the burden of maintaining these animals for the rest of their natural lives. Maharashtra has also made the possession of beef – regardless of whether it is from outside the state or from abroad – a criminal offence. The Devendra Fadnavis government, along with several other BJP-ruled states recently imposed a limited duration ban on the sale of mutton and chicken during the Jain festival of Paryushan. The Union Culture Minister, Mahesh Sharma, has publicly advocated a nine-day national meat ban during the navaratras. In Jammu and Kashmir, the RSS is pushing to ensure that a colonial-era ban on beef be strictly enforced across the state.

Staying alive

In response to the meat ban, the journalist Vir Sanghvi joked that if you vote for the Gujarat model, you get the Gujarat diet too. But the Dadri incident tells us the politics of food is no laughing matter anymore.

In any democratic society governed by the rule of law, there would still be space to have a debate on the citizen’s right to make her or his own dietary choices without interference from the state. After Dadri, it is clear that that argument is over.

Make no mistake – that is how far our political goalposts and moral compasses have moved in the past 16 months.We have gone past the stage where we can expect political parties and the courts to defend the right of a citizen to eat what she or he likes. The issue at stake now is a family’s right to not be attacked and killed because of the food they eat, or would like to eat – or are suspected of eating.

We are now at the next stage of the pink revolution. When we get to discover that the colour of human flesh is the same as the colour of what Modi innocently – or not so innocently – calls “mutton”.

  • Indian

    Gone are the days when an Indian Film Director took the initiative to convince the world in general and US in particular that all Khan’s (read Muslims) are not terrorists. ‘My Name is Khan and I am not a terrorist’.
    Need of the hour is to convince all the RIGHT groups, who believes that violence is the only means to protest, that ‘My Name is Khan and I don’t eat beef’ to save our lives.

  • PWA

    Good to see this occupying the headlines at least on the Wire.. Thought Modi was truly on the Ahimsa way when he signed that big white board at Facebook H/Q two days back.. Can someone send this story to those Corporate Cheerleaders in the US who were with him in town hall exchanges and dinners? Why don’t they pose these questions to him along with business talk?? Or to India’s new age ‘digital’ editors like Ms Barkha Dutt interviewing the ‘star chefs’ on the menu for the visit last week, as if India did not have anything else to know??? The hyperbole seems all so very empty when put in perspective..

  • Costly Truth

    Just one question to sidarth bhai. What has Modi got to do with this killing in the secular state of UP? if every crime committed by hindus in theis country have to be attributed to Modi and no one else, then why you libtards are shy of calling the kind of terrorism practices by al queda, isis etc., as islamic terrorism? letus talks some facts. do you refute that when beef ban was imposed, it was bangladeshi businessmen across the border who immediately felt the impact? let the law take its own course. unlike how you people defended yakub memon even after 20 years of legal battle and SC verdict, we the hindus who have conscience will not support the mob that carried out this dastardly act. For most of us, the true indian citizens of India, we dont differentiate people based on the religion. But, it is only your english MSM, that always to create a rift in the society. you underplay the incidents when Hindus are at the receiving end, but magnify the one-off incidents like this to portray Hindus in as much bad colour as possible.


      We will believe that Modi has nothing to do with this incident , if he can find the moral courage to look within and say something of what he feels , as an Indian , and a powerful Indian at that , after this incident ; does he still feel proud to be an Indian now ?

      We might or might not have been ashamed to be Indian earlier , but I for one can say that I am certainly ashamed to be called an Indian today. I never thought that such a great country would be reduced to this.

  • Persolise

    It is time for Muslims and others to truly leave India. Those who can afford to go, anyway. One feels gut wrenching sadness for the poorer people.

    Too much damage, irreversible harm has been done. It’s a miracle victims are not turning to violence. Nothing is left to save, what could one possibly save after the last year and indeed the years before this one? This land does not belong to us, not any longer. They want it all, and they want you to feel pain while snatching it away.

    It is time we leave, save our souls. This land is not ours any longer.

  • Radha

    India retains its top spot as the world’s largest exporter of beef,
    according to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and
    has extended its lead over the next highest exporter, Brazil.

  • Sant Lal Arora

    The incident of lynching a person that too near the capital New Delhi merely on the suspicion that he had cow meat in his house is an example of the things to come in the BJP rule. Even if the sample of meat after testing is found to be that of cow, the man should not have been killed. He should have been prosecuted if he had committed any crime.

  • R.Srinivasan

    Mr.Siddartha varadarajan exposed the BJP and its leadership in this article. He should be complimented for his analysis.

  • N Motwani

    After this truly shameful and pathetic incident, I see India going the Pakistani way. The way how blasphemy laws in Pakistan are used/misused against non-Muslims in Pakistan, beef-eating is being used against non-Hindus in India. But lest these mindless bhakts forget, let me remind them India is a secular democracy unlike Pakistan where we are supposed to respect each other’s right to eat whatever food they want to. As long as someone is not forcing you too to eat beef, you should not have a problem with others eating beef if they want to. Also, secondly, do these bhakts think that Hinduism doesn’t allow you to eat beef? Just because some upper castes from North India do not eat beef, let these bhakts not forget that Hindu dalits eat beef, caste hindus eat beef too in the east and north-east. It’s the same everywhere – North Indians trying to force their culture on all Indians. Sorry, but Hindi will never be a national language. Also, sorry but all Hindus will never stop eating beef. Accept that! And worst of all is to have a PM who speaks and speaks non-stop but has not yet found the time to at least condemn this horrific, chilling incident.


    It could be the other way, these incidents could also be well crafted diversionary tactics the Grand Old Political party and vested interests who are unable to accept the present government’s strong stance black money and corruption.

    Powerful vested interests are working overtime to topple the first government serious in ending corruption and black money by bringing frivolous issues and hyping the same and claiming “SKY IS FALLING”. Good chance that a lot of voices in media are driven by these vested interests


    We had one of the worst droughts in 2014 and 2015. Per capita availablity of water in India has fallen by 75% since 1950 and India stands among most water stressed nations in world. Given this, the very idea of promoting Meat Production (towards exports) , is like subsidizing sugarcane farmers growing cane out of borewell irrigation – Fundamentally unsustainable. While the aversion of Left Liberals to vegetarianism in India is understandable, the point is promoting a resource intensive food stuff for export markets is never sustainable in India.

  • Abooda

    I’m curious to know: does the fact that India is a major exporter of beef to the world impact debate in the country? Is this widely discussed?

  • Sujad Syed

    Pink today will become bloody blood red tomorrow – China & its agent, Pakistan will be thrilled!