Authorities detained on Monday about 30 Osmania University students who were planning to hold a run in support of a controversial beef festival they have organised for December 10.
The police action was aimed at defusing tensions that have swirled since a group of students announced the feast in protest against several BJP-ruled states in recent months enforcing and enhancing long-dormant laws imposing prohibitions on cattle slaughter and beef trade.
The situation escalated when some rival students at the Hyderabad-based university declared that on the same day they would hold a pork festival and rituals to worship the cow, which is considered sacred by many Hindus, while BJP legislator T Raja Singh Lodh vowed to disrupt the beef fest “at any cost”
“We took 30 students into preventive custody this morning as they tried to hold a run and later released them,” said Ashok Reddy, station house officer of the Osmania University police station. “It has been made clear by the university authorities already that these food festivals have no permission. We are geared up to ensure order on the campus on Thursday.”
The developments come against the backdrop of several instances being reported from parts of the country this year of people being attacked and sometimes killed over rumours of butchering or smuggling of cattle.
“Let them arrest us. But we are determined to conduct the beef fest. We will taste at least one piece of beef that day,” said Sarath Naliganti, a research scholar and president of the Dalit Bahujan Cultural Students Association at the university.
Meanwhile, there were reports that a petition was filed against the beef fest in the city civil court which asked for status quo to be maintained on the campus till December 20.