As he marks a year in office with 10 days of public functions, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has courted controversy by stating in an interview with The Indian Express that Muslims can stay in India as long as they give up beef.
His exact comment, during an interview to Nirupama Subramanian and Varinder Bhatia, was: "Muslim rahein, magar is desh mein beef khaana chhodna hi hoga unko. Yahan ki manyata hai gau (Muslims can stay but in India they have to give up beef. The cow is revered here)." He said giving up beef will not hurt the religious sentiments of either Muslims or Christians in India.
"They can be Muslim even after they stop eating beef, can’t they? It is written nowhere that Muslims have to eat beef, not is it written anywhere in Christianity that they have to eat beef,” he said. He argued that a democracy offers certain rights to citizens but those come with limitations.
Led by 61-year-old Khattar, a man known for his austere lifestyle and clean image, the Bharatiya Janata Party stormed to power in Haryana after assembly polls last year. Khattar, a first-time MLA from Karnal, had made his stand on beef very clear.
He was instrumental in banning the sale of the meat in the state. The Haryana Assembly in March passed a bill that made cow slaughter and the sale of beef illegal in the state. Under the Haryana 'Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan' Bill, 2015, a person found guilty of cow slaughter can get rigorous imprisonment not less than three years, which may extend upto 10 years along with a fine ranging from Rs 30,000 to Rs. 1 lakh.
On the brutal violence in Dadri, the CM said that the murder of a 50-year-old Muslim ironsmith by a lynch mob was a result of "misunderstanding". He condemned the incident but at the same time said "both sides" were to blame. Mohammad Akhlaq was bludgeoned to death by the mob outside his house on the suspicion that he had slaughtered and consumed a cow. The meat found inside his fridge was later found to be mutton and not beef.
Express quoted Khattar as saying that the victim allegedly made a "halki tippani" or loose comment about cows which hurt the sentiments of Hindus.
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