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Having Beef with Beef


It has been a painful week. The Bisara lynching has been like a running wound. Then comes the detention by the Delhi police of a journalist who was only doing his job.

Having a beef with beef
“No fodder? Let them eat plastic”

By Shanta Gokhale

It has been a painful week. The Bisara lynching has been like a running wound. Then comes the detention by the Delhi police of a journalist who was only doing his job. They hauled him in on suspicion that he was off to enjoy beef at the “beefy picnic” organised by Delhi University student, Gaurav Jain in front of the BJP HQ. In the hands of the police, suspicion can become a powerful instrument of injustice. Given time and police will, suspicion soon transmogrifies into proof of guilt. Thus a constable could confidently say to the journalist about whose antecedents he knew nothing, “The law can protect criminals; but it won’t protect sinners like you.”

How do we deal with what’s going on in the country? There’s a character called Maniac in Dario Fo‘s Accidental Death of an Anarchist, who says a “liberatory burp” is all that people need to relieve “social indigestion”. Thus, an editorial is a burp. An activist’s morcha is a burp. Writers returning their Sahitya Akademi Awards is a burp. But what does one who has no awards to return do? Rude as it may sound, she humbly offers you the following burp.


(The curtain goes up to reveal a large bewhiskered man [hereinafter called M] reclining on a charpoy with ten young men [hereinafter called YM] sitting at his feet. J is a journalist who happens to come by, sniffing news.)

M: So children, what is mantra number one?

YM: Beef haters good, beef lovers bad.

M: Very good. And mantra number two?

YM: Dharma is above the law.

M: Excellent. Mantra number three?

YM: Dharma means sikhaoing sabak to beef lovers.

M: Great. And how do we identify beef lovers?

YM: By their faces.

M: And what do we do when we’ve identified them?

YM: Call them Pakistanis.

M: By what logic?

YM: Pakistan is our enemy. Beef lovers are our enemy. Therefore beef lovers are Pakistanis.

J: That’s not logic.

M: Who let her in? Gag her. Now. How many Pakistanis have you identified in our village?

YM: (Looking embarrassed) One.

M: What? Only one? We need more. Then we can force them into a ghetto and call it little Paksitan. One Pakistani doth not a Pakistan make.

YM: Hunh?

M: (Shaking his head in shame) This colonial burden has been destroying our great culture for 67 years. There’s this angrezi kahawat. Bilayat is so cold that their swallows — chidiyan — fly away in winter. When they return, it means summer has arrived. But…

YM: …if only one swallow is coming, summer is not coming, hai na?

M: Right. Now where were we before English intruded on our culture?

YM: We were feeling angry about having only one Pakistani.

M: Good for starters. His beef is cooked.

YM: Hunh?

M: Sorry. Very very sorry. Angrezi again. See, those red-faced bilayatis have another kahawat. When somebody offends them, they show him their fist and say, “You’re goose is cooked mate.”

YM: Is goose their holy bird?

J: Ha ha ha!

M: She’s taken her gag off. Go bash her up. Nobody in this nation laughs at us. Take away her camera and mobile. Don’t touch her otherwise. She is our devi our mata our behen. But give her a pasting she won’t forget.

J: You can’t do this. You can’t take the law into your hands.

M: Who said? Throw her in the well.

J: (Waving her press card) You know what you’re doing? Dividing the nation again. Your king doesn’t want you to do that.

M: You think? You heard him say something we didn’t? (They all collapse laughing) Now boys, put on your tilaks and turbans and off you go.

YM: Whose calf should we say the Pakistani slaughtered?

M: What calf? Who said there was a calf? Stop asking silly questions. And don’t talk to the media whatever happens. They distort everything.

J: (From deep down in the well) We don’t distort. We only report.

M: You didn’t drown her?

YM: She can swim. What if she reports what she heard? They’ll call it pre-meditated.

M: Forget them. Our man in Delhi will say it was an accident. He’s a doctor. He should know. Now, the motto, loud and clear.

YM: Beef haters good. Beef lovers bad.

(They all stand up, their talwars raised. The national anthem plays in the background as the curtain comes down on tolerant, multicultural India).

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