The recent controversy over the use of the word ‘beef’ on the signboards of hotels and restaurants in Naharlagun was unnecessary and best avoided. Naharlagun Magistrate Tamo Dada in his order while banning the use of the word ‘beef’ on the signboards of hotels and restaurants claimed that such signboards might hurt the sentiments of some sections of the community and might create animosity between different groups. However, he had to retract after citizens of the state reacted furiously to the order. As expected, a few isolated BJP leaders came out in support of the order, but the majority of Arunachalis were left fuming over the order. Beef is consumed by the majority of tribal citizens in the state.
In fact, it is a very important animal that is slaughtered during important occasions like marriage, rituals, etc, in the tribal society. People cutting across tribes and religions consume beef. While there are a few who have stopped eating beef, and that too mostly for health reasons, lately, some tribals who have converted to Hindu have stopped consuming beef. But the majority population still consumes beef. The order was unnecessary and easily could have been avoided. Magistrate Dada should have consulted his senior officers and also taken the views of the market welfare association and the general public before issuing such a sensitive order. The tribal community of the state generally does not appreciate such kind of random order which tries to forcibly impose an idea alien to Arunachal Pradesh. Quite naturally, the order backfired and made people angry.
Beef is banned in the majority of the Hindu-dominated states across India. But it is not banned in tribal-dominated states, and in states like Kerala and Goa. For tribals, beef is a source of protein and it should remain that way. In the future, the magistrates should be careful while issuing such kind of random order which might in fact end up hurting the local tribal sentiments more.