The Prime Minister in his address on June 30 rightly observed that a season of festivals was around the corner with Raksha Bandhan, Krishna Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Onam, Kati Bihu, Navratri, Durga Pooja, Dussehra and Diwali. But the Prime Minister totally missed Eid from his list. Does that mean that the Muslims of India do not exist for the Prime Minister, that there was no room for their celebration or their festival, nevermind their inclusion in the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana?
Eid which happens to be a big festival for the Muslims is slated for July 31/1 Aug. It is marked by the ritual congregational prayers, now held with “social distancing” across mosques, and the sacrifice of “State allowed” animals which are distributed among the poor and others. After the NDA government came to power, a series of measures seen as “anti-Muslim” were taken starting with the ban on slaughter of cows and sale and consumption of beef. The ban resulted in inflaming “anti-Muslim” sentiments to such an extent that Muslims in possession of meat, other than cow, were lynched. A big hue and cry is raised around Bakri Eid/Eid al Adha with BJP netas and Hindu outfits urging government and courts to ban even the sale and slaughter of goats, buffaloes and other animals. The presence of animals, their sacrifice is so strongly contested that, for instance, few groups even approached the Bombay High Court this time last year to successfully get a ban on slaughter in public places with “godi media” keenly following if that ban was implemented.
With Coronavirus “cases rising” it is not known if a government “with agenda” will extend restrictions to include inter-state ban on transport of animals and prohibition on animal markets or even place a complete lockdown. Bihar has already imposed lockdown from July 16th until July 31st to “curb the spread of Covid-19” with Bengaluru doing “weekly shutdowns”. Eid which has already missed Prime Minister Modi’s list may not receive any attention for concession if another lockdown were to be implemented.
The Covid-19 cases have been rising, with or without lockdown, in India. Current figures stand at 937, 844 as on 15th July. The Government has so far implemented 4 lockdowns between March 25 and 31st May. As figures kept rising and economy activity started declining, the Government called for another ‘partial’ lockdown this time calling it Unlock-1. India is currently under Unlock-2 which is scheduled to end on July 31st.
Most activities and establishments are open including religious places. Karnataka became the first state to announce opening of the temples even before mosques and churches. “Temples will open from June 1, for hotels and others we want permission from Delhi, from the Prime Minister..,” this is what Yediyurappa had said. Even the Puri Rath Yatra that was initially cancelled after Supreme Court observed ‘danger’ to public health and safety was later allowed on appeal after the Temple Administration and the Government assured the court of taking precautions. The Shankaracharya of Puri, Swami Nischalananda Saraswati had alleged that there was a ‘well-orchestrated plan’ to stall the Rath Yatra this year. As the nod came from the Supreme Court a happy Amit Shah was seen thanking the Court for allowing the Rath Yatra.
Government should allow Bakri Eid to be observed with all the rituals while Muslims should take all necessary “precautions”. But if restrictions are so placed, with cancellation of rituals, will Muslim bodies approach Supreme Court to get a “nod” similar to Rath Yatra?