Breaking News

A Strong Message To Gau Rakshaks

We will have to wait to see the impact of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strong denunciation of a majority of “gau rakshaks” (cow protectors) being “anti-social elements.” His annoyance was palpable: “I get so angry at those who have made gau raksha a business. They commit crime by night and wear the gau rakshak mask by the day.” This is the first time the Prime Minister has spoken on cow vigilantism which has grown in many states targeting Muslims and Dalits, accusing them of slaughtering cows, assaulting them and even murdering them. Modi’s strong castigation comes in the wake of a Dalit reaction to cow vigilantism in his home state Gujarat. The reaction was triggered by the incident of July 11 when about 35 self-appointed ‘gau rakshaks’ attacked 7 Dalits in the Mota Samadhiyala village of Una taluka in the Gir Somnath district, accusing them of slaughtering a cow. They beat them with iron rods and sticks, kidnapped four Dalits and took them to Una, tied them to a SUV and flogged them publicly through the town. The reality, as people and police found out, was that the cow was killed by a lion and the group of Dalit youths had been sent by the owner of the cow for skinning the dead cow as it was their traditional occupation. But the self-appointed ‘gau rakshaks’ spread a rumour that the Dalit youths had killed the cow and were cutting it for beef outside the village.
The Dalits of Gujarat have now declared that they would not be skinning dead cows. They have said that those who ‘worship’ cow as mother should take care of the skinning. “If cow is your mother, you should take care of her not only when she is living but also when she is dead,” the Dalit voices are shouting at the twice-born Hindus throughout Gujarat. There is no doubt that one of the reasons for the resignation of Anandiben Patel as chief minister was the BJP leadership’s growing concern that the party might lose the 7 per cent Dalit vote in the forthcoming state Assembly elections. Anandiben had to go to assuage the Dalit feelings. However, violence in the name of cow protection has been on the rise not only in Gujarat, but other states too, including Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Late July two Muslim women were beaten at Mandsaur railway station in Madhya Pradesh on suspicion of carrying beef. Cattle traders Majloom Ansari and Imtiyaz Khan were beaten up, robbed and hanged from a tree in Jhabra village in the Balumath police station area of Latehar district of Jharkhand. The cleaner of a truck, Zahid Ahmad of Anantnag, died of burns suffered during the petrol-bombing of the Kashmir valley-bound vehicle in Udhampur by a local mob protesting a ‘beef party’ hosted by independent MLA Engineer Rashid in Srinagar a few days earlier.
From Gujarat and other states reports have come that in many cases the self-appointed ‘gau rakshaks’ first demand money from cattle traders or those they target for attack, and if they refuse to pay them, they attack them. The Prime Minister has said that “about 80 per cent of the cow protectors” were suspected to have been involved in criminal activities. The state governments must prepare a “dossier” on the self-appointed ‘gau rakshaks’ as the Prime Minister has advised them to do.
The brutalities in the name of cow protection must stop. The Prime Minister’s strong denunciation should hopefully make the ‘gau rakshak’ groups and individuals that are sometimes identified with and draw power from their association with the Sangh Parivar sit back and think afresh on the cow protection strategy. These groups and individuals are driven by Hindu religious notions and probably make the 20 per cent of the ‘gau rakshaks’ who Modi has not clubbed with the 80 per cent of the lot who are “criminals by night and cow protectors by day.” There are MPs and MLAs of the BJP who have made provocative statements on the cow protection issue. Most states have laws prohibiting cow slaughter. It should be left to the government to act against violations of the law. Even if there are violations they should be seen as violations of a law, and not as a proof of treason. Which law is abided by a hundred per cent in this country? The inflammatory material in cow protection campaign is the identification of cow killing with anti-nationalism. Prime Minister Modi may in his next exhortation want to ask the political gau rakshaks not to consider anyone a traitor to Mother India if he is suspected or accused of slaughtering a cow or eating beef, but to let the law enforcement authorities handle the case.

Check Also

Send Health Workers

The detection of five coronavirus positive cases in Goa has highlighted once again the absolute …