SRINAGAR: Several BJP lawmakers beat up an Independent MLA Engineer Rashid in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly this morning, for hosting a beef party on Wednesday.
Gagan Bhagat, Rajeev Sharma, Ravinder Raina and two other lawmakers pounced on Engineer Rashid and started thrashing him before proceedings began; lawmakers of the opposition National Conference had to intervene.
Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has condemned the assault, saying, “You cannot manhandle an MLA.” He asked Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh of the BJP – which partners the Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party or PDP in governing J&K – to “accept the mistake.”
Nirmal Singh said, “I don’t approve of what has happened.” But he also criticised Mr Rashid for serving beef to his guests on the lawns of Srinagar’s MLA hostel.
“Everyone eats there together,” Mr Singh said.
Mr Raina, one of the BJP lawmakers who attacked Mr Rashid, alleged he was provoked by the Independent MLA boasting about his party this morning. “Whoever disrespects the Gau Mata (mother cow) will have to face this. Everyone knows the cow is sacred to Hindus,” he said.
In the Assembly, the entire Opposition walked out in protest against the assault. An angry Omar Abdullah of the National Conference said Mr Rashid had done nothing to deserve a “murderous attack” on him.
“We respect and understand the sentiments of other communities, but that does not mean we can resort to violence to settle scores… Alcohol is prohibited in my religion. Consumption of pork is prohibited in my religion, but that does not mean I should attack everyone who consumes alcohol or pork,” the former chief minister said.
To the BJP, he said, “The people who are pointing fingers at you for the Dadri incident. You proved it.”
Last week, a mob lynched a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri over rumours that he had slaughtered a calf and eaten beef. The son of a local BJP leader is among those arrested for the man’s murder.
As he hosted the beef party on Wednesday, Engineer Rashid said that he meant to offend no one and just wanted to send out the message that “no courts or legislature can prevent the people from eating what they want”.
There has been massive controversy in Jammu and Kashmir after the state’s High Court ordered the strict implementation of a law that bans beef. The Supreme Court is now hearing the matter.