Yesterday, I said how the hatred and goondaism in the name of cow vigilantes are going on in our country. Actually, every state government should firmly deal with these cow vigilantes. They do a lot of disservice to the nation by creating unnecessary communal tension. Such attacks pose a question mark over BJP’s credibility too, because they have not forced the authorities to act strictly. They did not frame any rule or pass the bill. They had emphasized on banning beefs, without issuing clear guidelines. Mostly the poor minorities become targets those who has nothing to do with communal disturbances. As many as 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.
A year ago, the Prime Minister had admonished the gau rakshaks (cow vigilantes) in no uncertain terms. He did so again few days back, but even as he was speaking a mob was killing a man suspected of carrying beef in Jharkhand, which is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). PM did not question the law and order situation of the state. He did not comment against the government because it is his own party that is ruling the state.
One must know who these gau rakshaks are, more than the rescue; the bandwagon called gau rakshak is turning into a full-fledged force across India. These gau rakshaks who attain fame by thrashing a few smugglers get special treatment in the circles they sit in. Featuring in videos posted on social media and being the leader of the gau rakshaks seen nabbing the smuggler certainly boosts their reputation. Many of them are associated with politics and it certainly gives them popularity in the circles or people, they are part of. Most of these rakshaks use this forged fame to grab attention of big political masters who always look for protégés. Yes, to some, it’s a method to gain popularity.
If we look back and recall, few weeks ago, a 40-second video of a man being thrashed on what looks like a highway went viral. He was wearing a white kurta-pyjama, which was torn as a result of repeated blows by 15-odd youngsters. There was blood, there was screaming and there was very little information about what really was happening.
Pehlu Khan, a resident of Haryana was transporting three cows from Jaipur to his residence in Haryana. Initially, he wanted to buy a buffalo but couldn’t afford it hence he settled for the cows. As he was crossing Rajasthan, his truck was stopped, he was dragged out and thrashed. Days later, he died in the hospital. The gathered crowd, all students from nearby places who called them gau rakshaks was convinced he was transporting cows for slaughter, no documents were sought, but he was Muslim and very often that’s enough in India. It is true that there have been incidents of violence perpetrated by cow vigilantes over the years that must be addressed. Violence against human beings in the name of protecting animals is not acceptable. But this issue should be understood in its correct proportions.
Smuggling of cows does exist, but it’s also a truth that people of all faiths buy cows for domestic needs which often is mistaken (it appears that they deliberately misinterpret) it as smuggling. Smuggling activities definitely occur on the route from Sonepat in Uttar Pradesh in which local mafia and cops are involved. They have suddenly turned cow vigilantes probably because they are not getting the share demanded by them.
Apart from the eating habit, Muslims also housetrain cows across the country. And on various occasions, Muslim clerics have categorically denounced the killing of cows because it results in communal tension. Whether it’s the killing of Khan or Akhlaq or the abuse of Una Dalits, the current cow vigilantism is purely communal in nature.
It will obviously take much more than an occasional condemnation to bring under control the fatal fanatics of the Hindu’s right. The reason is the deep-seated animosity of these groups towards Muslims. Over the past two years, the issues posed by cow vigilantism and cow protectors (gau rakshaks) has subjugated the pomposity of Opposition parties of India and formed one of their main electoral planks. They have raised a persistent cry of danger and oppression owing to violent cow protectors. They have highlighted Hindu cow protection-based violence as massive and communal in nature, threatening the safety of all Muslims and perhaps all Dalits as well.
One must note that the issue of cow slaughter has remained controversial for centuries in India, with its non-beef eating Hindu majority population. It was part of Mahatma Gandhi’s concerns that he practiced cow protection himself. This struggle over cow protectors, however unpleasant, is not a national security issue, like separatism and terrorism, with which it is often equated or even mentioned first along with. It is a law and order problem that should be addressed on that level. This is the second part of the four parts series on the topic. Tomorrow we will highlight other aspects of this goondaism and its further effect.
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