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Balraj Dungar (centre) along with other members speaking to media. Photograph by Munish Kumar When Mohammed Iqbal (36) left his home in Hapur on the morning of 6 February 2017, he was carrying 40,000 rupees in cash. A cattle sales middleman by trade, his destination was the Bulandshahar cattle market — a weekly cattle market about 40 kilometres from his home — and his objective was to buy two buffaloes which he would sell onwards to a slaughterhouse in Hapur. This had been his routine every Monday for the last eleven years. “It was supposed to be routine,” Iqbal told

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A protest in Delhi against cow vigilantism in India. The violent activism of self-styled ‘cow protectors’, who call themselves ‘Gau rakshaks’, involves thrashing, harassing and lynching people — anytime, anywhere. And with the rise of violent cow vigilantism, ‘gau’ (cow) is now more important than humans in this country. Lynching incidents have happened in the country for the last few years, and have even led our Prime Minister to theatrically shed tears over the killings and condemn them. But, the gau rakshaks remain undeterred. In recent years, incidents of brutal lynchings in the name of cow protectionism have become common

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Photograph courtesy: Kashmiri cartoonist and graphic artist Mir Suhail The idea of the cow as the revered mother, worthy of lifetime service, and therefore outside the purview of the abattoir, is no earlier than a sixteenth century construct. Most Hindus today are under the impression that their Vedic ancestors revered the cow for its sacredness, a misconception actively encouraged by the drivers of current Hindutva politics. Hindutva, a relatively new political ideology that uses elements of Hinduism and the ‘otherness’ of Abrahamic faiths, drives the current majoritarian political discourse in India, using religious polarization as its raison d’etre. It proudly

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India’s livestock population (2012 Livestock census). Courtesy vikaspedia.in Livestock has played a crucial role in the Indian economy since pre-historic times. The cow and cow products like milk, ghee, meat and hide are mentioned in almost all religious texts of Hinduism. In the Mahabharata, Lord Krishna is shown to have a close association with cows. In the Rigveda, there is description of a yagna to increase wealth generation from cows. In modern times, livestock continues to be the mainstay of the rural economy. In our country, approximately twenty million people are dependent upon livestock for their livelihood. Being a reliable

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A protest against beef ban in India. Photograph courtesy MediaOne TV. That those eat now, who never ate before, And those who always ate, now eat the more. Beef or buff, Cow or bull, was never political to me. Heck, it wasn’t even meat. It was food. I grew up in a multi-faith household in Mumbai of the 1990s. My parents — a Roman Catholic from Mangalore and a Tamilian Brahmin — fell in love during college, got married soon after, and had two boys. While my mother was, and continues to be, a vegetarian, she soon started cooking meat

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Chulbul Pandeys in Gulmarg. Photographs by Parikshit Jhunjhunwala A tourist’s apathy and Kashmir’s reality run in close parallels. Any preliminary research for traveling to the troubled territory will tell you the land is safe for tourists. A summary of the eloquent reviews will be: ‘nothing that happens in Kashmir will bother you, you can have a good time’. The imagery this line evokes is of flashy baraatis on their ghodis dancing away in a roped in space alongside frustrating, hardly moving traffic. The whole tourism system is designed to leave you chanting hami asto hami asto, unless you listen closely

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In the heart of Srinagar, a three-day art show called “Confluence” featuring some of the most important emerging and senior artists in Kashmir today exhibited the artworks in the form of paintings, photography, drawing, sculptures, digital media, sound, video and more. It had more than 130 original artworks by 34 Kashmiri artists, becoming part of the 7th Annual Contemporary Art show of Kashmir Art Quest, and hosted by ZMK Collective. The three-day exhibition, curated by Syed Mujtaba Rizvi of KAQ and hosted by Zoya Khan and Zahaan Khan of ZMKC, not only witnessed high footfall by people from different walks

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In the last few years, core issues that plague India have been made to cede much of the political space that they ought to rightfully occupy. That space is now occupied by the cow and commentaries about how its protection is crucial to not hurt the sentiments of the Hindu community — the majority population in the country. While issues such as inadequate health care infrastructure, poor education facilities, an ailing rural economy, farmer suicides, caste injustice, take a back seat. It is the protection of the cow that dominates political discussions and even policy, sometimes to the detriment of

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A group of children with toy guns in South Kashmir. Photograph by Aakash Hassan Ten-year-old Zahan pulls out his “gun” from the folds of cloth kept next to his school bag. Cleaning it thoroughly, Shameema, his mother, puts her hand on his head. Zahan steps out of his house and walks through the dusky lanes of dense willows to meet his companions. Zahan, “commander” of his “rebel” group, is 10. As he reaches, he is warmly welcomed by his friends–the “guns” slugging over their shoulders and some held firm with their soft hands, pointed upwards. The famous willow of Kashmir

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Independent Kashmir flags at a public rally in Dailgam, South Kashmir on August 12, 2016. Photograph by Fahad Shah. The entire South Asia has been shadowed by the staggering apprehension of security concerns, cross-border conflicts and poor connectivity. The insubstantial situation of the one of the densely populated region in the world has made it one of the least integrated in the world besides having common bonds across the international borders. India and Pakistan being two nuclear rivals and key states of the region have always been on forefronts since their creation in 1947. Religion has always been a dominant

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