Aizawl, June 13: The northeast region of India is definitely upset with the pan-India "beef ban" announced by the Centre recently. After Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, it's the turn of Mizoram to protest against the Centre's cattle sale and slaughter regulations, which many allege is the "backdoor" implementation of beef ban across the country.
On Monday, when home minister Rajnath Singh visited Aizawl, the capital city of Mizoram, thousands gathered to cook and enjoy a hearty beef meal as a mark of protest against what the protesters call as attack on the food habit of the several communities and groups who have been traditionally eating beef for centuries.
The beef festival was organised by a social media group --Zolife-- which has over 9,000 members on Facebook in Aizawl, coinciding with Singh's visit to Mizoram's capital to review the security situation along the India-Myanmar border.
In spite of a heavy downpour, around 3,000 people, including women and children took part in the festival. Along with eating beef delicacies, the participants shouted slogans against the Centre's ruling. Posters with statements like,"For god's sake, let's eat beef", were seen hanging at the festival ground. Recently, members of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Tura, Meghayala, also hosted a beef festival.
According to a survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation in 2015, northeastern states, except Tripura, are among the top beef eating places in the country. Twenty-three per cent people in Mizoram eat beef on a daily basis.
The ban on beef has turned into a political issue in the region, especially in states like Meghalaya and Mizoram which are slated to vote for assembly elections in 2018.
After witnessing the protest, Singh during a news conference in the evening in Aizawl told reporters that there is no restriction on the food habits of people under the law. State BJP chief JV Hluna said there is no problem in eating beef in Mizoram.
"We are strongly against the Narendra Modi government's attempt to ban beef which is one of the most important traditional food items of the Mizos," one of the organisers said.
A member of Zolife Group, Lalrinfela Hauhnar said that beef has been closely related with the Mizo custom, tradition and religion.
"Beef has a strong cultural importance with the Mizos. Customarily cows and buffaloes are widely used as bride price in marriage among the Mizos and also in many other occasions," added Hauhnar, who is also a writer.