Recently citizens held demonstrations in various regions of the nation to protest against lynching carried out in the country on cow meat. Since 2014, there has been a rise in violence in the name of cow but Prime Minister Narendra Modi always maintained silence. Minorities and Dalits were brutally attacked and so-called cow vigilante took law in hand by lynching the people. This time, the common man stood against this brutality and hit the streets that finally made our PM Narendra Mo(un)di to break his silence. Modi condemned the act of Gaurakshak, but it was just a verbal solace. Practically, he did not mention about taking stern action against the culprits. Our PM said killing people in the name of gau bhakti, or devotion to the cow, is not acceptable; Mahatma Gandhi would not have approved of it; no person in the country has the right to take the law into his own hands. And then, the PM could have used this moment to say more than just that. From him, all those chilled by the brutality and banality of the violence of the lynch mob, most needed to hear: The law and order machinery will act quickly and firmly, show zero tolerance for such crimes. Suddenly, why Modi remembered Mahatma Gandhi on this issue no one knows, as these very self-declared Gaurakshaks (the cow vigilantes) are Gandhiji’s haters. They are right wing supporters, who never respected Gandhi or Nehru. Anyway, it is good to see PM occasionally respecting Mahatma Gandhi.
In 2015, a man in a village near Dadri, Noida, had stored meat in his fridge for another meal and when a crowd of 100 people sprung on his house, he had no way to prove it was not beef. He was lynched too. In the last two years, Gau Rakshaks have become the new terror in India, they’re portrayed as outlaws united under the banner of protecting ‘Gau mata’ and are armed with whatever they need to stop it.
Muslims were the target of 51% of violence centered on bovine issues over nearly eight years (2010 to 2017) and comprised 86% of 28 Indians killed in 63 incidents. As many of 97% of these attacks were reported after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came to power in May 2014, and about half the cow-related violence–32 of 63 cases–were from states governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) when the attacks were reported, revealed our analysis of violence recorded until June 25, 2017. Of the 28 Indians who died over the seven-year period, 24 were Muslim, or 86%, almost 124 people were injured in these attacks. Most of these attacks were based on rumours. Who spread the rumours, what was the motive and how they propagated these attacks no one knows. National or state crime data do not distinguish general violence from cow-related attacks and lynching.
In the first six months of 2017, 20 cow-terror attacks were reported–more than 75% of the 2016 figure, which was the worst year for such violence since 2010.
The attacks include mob lynching, attacks by vigilantes, murder and attempt to murder, harassment, assault and gang rape. In two attacks the victims and survivors were chained, stripped and beaten, while in two others, the victims were hanged. If we look at state wise data then, Uttar Pradesh (10), Haryana (9), Gujarat (6), Karnataka (6), Madhya Pradesh (4), Delhi (4) and Rajasthan (4) reported the highest number of cases. No more than 21% (13 of 63) of the cases were reported from southern or eastern states (including Bengal and Odisha), but almost half (six of 13) were from Karnataka. The only incident reported in the northeast was the murder of two men in Assam on 30 April 2017. 8 were run by the Congress, and the rest by other parties, including the Samajwadi Party (Uttar Pradesh), People’s Democratic Party (Jammu & Kashmir) and Aam Aadmi Party (Delhi).
Ironically, lynching does not find mention in the Indian Penal Code. No particular law has been passed to deal with neither lynching, nor the legislators ever felt the need of passing any law against it. Absence of a codified law to deal with mob violence or lynching makes it difficult to deliver justice in the cases of riots. However, Section 223(a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 says that persons or a mob involved in the same offence in the same act can be tried together. However, this has not been proved to give enough legal teeth to (the) justice delivery system. Even otherwise violence by mob is difficult to be identified.
Moreover, all these Gau Rakshaks aren’t random groups of people walking our highways, stopping trucks at random and peeking under their dirty traps to spot cows. There’s actually nothing random about them at all. Gau Raksha dal in UP has members which carry identity cards, take shifts to ‘enforce’ their agenda and have an extensive network with clearly determined responsibilities. There are two types of groups; one is registered non-profit organization, which works for protecting cow but in the gamete of law. They report the case to police and force them to act or rescue the cattle and deposit it to Gaushala (cow shelter homes). There are self-declared Right wing supporters who work as Gaurakshaks, by blackmailing people. By lynching, killing and raping the woman on the basis of mere gossips and rumours. Their main purpose is to attack Dalits and minorities and create unrest. These groups are self-declared custodians of the cow. This is first part of the four parts series on the topic. Tomorrow will highlight other aspects of this goondaism.
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