Justice Sachar, who was sharing the stage with many prominent Muslim scholars on the last day of the conference held at RC Degree College in Mathura, had said that among all the beef traders in India, 95% are from the Hindu community. “Almost 95% beef traders are Hindus. Still, a man was lynched in Dadri because he ate beef. This is the death of mankind and humanity. Eating habits have nothing to do with religion. Even I can eat beef,” he said.
In an oblique reference to BJP’s Sardhana MLA Sangeet Som, who was recently in the news over allegations, which he denied later, about owning a beef trading company, the former Delhi HC judge said, “MPs and MLAs, too, own beef companies. Then why is only the common man being targeted by right-wing groups?”
No sooner had he said this than scholars and teachers present in the conference hall started leaving the venue in protest. A few of them also switched off the fans and lights in the hall, demanding Sachar to stop his address.
Later, he tried to pacify the audience by adding that he only meant to highlight the plight of Muslims who were being targeted unnecessarily due to the beef controversy.
Shiv Ram Bharadwaj, a teacher at a degree college in Mathura who was present at the venue, told TOI, “The guests, scholars and intellectuals present at the auditorium got furious when Justice Sachar turned a ‘pro-Muslim’ topic into an ‘anti-Hindu’ one. We all have freedom of speech but one should carefully choose words while addressing a public gathering.”
Yaduraj Yadav, another college teacher who attended the conference, said Sachar should not have made references to Hindus and their scriptures to drive home his point. “He said that brothers were fighting in Mahabharata too. When the conference is about co-existence in Islam, why are we discussing Hindus and Mahabharata?” he asked.
The conference, which started on November 18, was attended by scholars and delegates from India, Canada, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and other countries. Tarek Fatah, a Canadian writer, broadcaster, a secular and liberal activist, also spoke at the conference.