Cow slaughter: How the Rohingyas failed to honour the sensitivities of the Buddhist population

Very recently the crisis that had been brewing in Myanmar for decades has caught the limelight of media. The mass exodus of the Rohingya’s into India has seen a steep escalation compared to their slow influx through the porous borders. This crisis is being debated on multiple television channels and op-eds via different viewpoints.

Their links to the terrorist organisations is the most dominating point which is being examined by many. Some debate in favour or against basing their arguments on emotion, human rights, demographic change and many more. One point which is not being told or being discussed is of cow slaughter.

Yes i know that mere mention of cow can attract strong reactions from many. Lets go back in time and start by trying to learn about the Rohingyas. They are stateless people from the state of Rakhine. Some call them Arakanees and some prefer to call them as Rohingyas for many reason including political. In-spite of their roots being traced to Myanmar since 8th century, Myanmar refuses to give them citizenship and does not recognise them as one of the eight national race, which has left them deprived of education and other state facilities.

Myanmar is a Buddhist nation which officially is very sensitive towards its belief specially in regards to cow (Nwas) slaughter. Tough people from some ethnic community like Kachin Buddhist do eat beef, they too would give it up during the Buddhist (Vassa) or (Uposatha) days. During the country’s last dynasty, the Konbaung Dynasty, habitual consumption of beef was punishable by public flogging.

As Buddhism being the dominant religion, most the the butchers were/are Muslims. 1961 under Prime Minister U Nu, who was a devout Buddhist, the government enacted a law that largely banned the slaughter of cattle. The law, which was later abolished when the military staged a coup in 1962, required Muslims to apply for exemption licenses to slaughter cattle on religious holidays.

When the Cattle are slaughtered in large number as a sacrifice, it made the Buddhist believers very uncomfortable. What made it worst was the In-your-face attitude of  the Muslims. This lead to a belief that the Muslim’s did not respect the sensitivities of the majority population. Even a request by Buddhist people to not walking out in public with their blood stained clothes was often ignored.

With a simple request like this being not respected, the trust deficit grew larger. When the Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed, no Muslim sect stood in solidarity with the Buddhist people. There place of pilgrimage being blown to pieces, a statement of solidarity from Muslim’s would have gone a long way.

Now lets take this into perspective of India. Whether you are a meat eater or not, one cannot ignore the sensitivity around cow slaughter. This year the Rohingya’s in India already asked permission to slaughter bulls during Eid. The sect which cannot stand in solidarity of the people of their domicile country, needs to introspect. During the Pakistan Movement in the 1940s, Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar organized a separatist movement to merge the region into East Pakistan.. Before the independence of Burma in January 1948, Muslim leaders from Arakan addressed themselves to Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and asked his assistance in incorporating the Mayu region to Pakistan considering their religious affinity and geographical proximity with East Pakistan. The North Arakan Muslim League was founded in Akyab (modern Sittwe) two months later. The proposal never materialized since it was reportedly turned down by Jinnah, saying that he was not in a position to interfere into Burmese matters.

They have failed to gain the trust of their majority community by not understanding the cultural sensitivity rather channeling their efforts to run armed struggles and demands for self determination. I am very skeptical of them mixing with our citizens, showing sensitivity where needed and stand in solidarity with the fellow countrymen. In a country which is as diverse as ours, as volatile as ours they will prove to be nothing less than a catalyst to create fault lines.

In my view this love affair is no worth the pain, if continued i am sure of this romance seeing an ugly ending.

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