India asks festival organizers to drop beef film

Indian livestock herder Wasibhai Rabari (L) pulls a rope with other villagers as they rescue his cow named 'Ganga' after it accidentally fell into the flooded Narmada Canal while grazing at Sonada village along the Dehgam-Ahmedabad highway.

Indian livestock herder Wasibhai Rabari (L) pulls a rope with other villagers as they rescue his cow named ‘Ganga’ after it accidentally fell into the flooded Narmada Canal while grazing at Sonada village along the Dehgam-Ahmedabad highway.


The organizers of an Indian film festival said Friday the government had pressured them to drop a documentary on the beef industry, amid a heated debate about beef eating in the majority-Hindu country.

Officially secular India is the world’s biggest exporter of beef, but the slaughter of cows — which Hindus consider holy — has long been contentious.

Organizers said the documentary, called “Caste on the Menu Card,” was the sole film of 35 submitted to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry they did not clear, ahead of the Friday opening of the Jeevika: Asia Livelihood Documentary Festival in New Delhi.

“They told us verbally to drop it as it’s a controversial issue. The other 34 documentaries were granted certificates,” said Avinash Chandra, one of the annual festival’s organizers.

“When we asked them to provide a reason for not granting permission they said the documentary is on a contentious topic.”

The beef issue has become particularly divisive in recent months.

Chandra said there was “nothing controversial” about the film, which looked at the beef industry in the western city of Mumbai — home to a large Muslim community.


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