BJP under Modi government had pushed its core Hindutva agenda to the limits, the veteran LK Advani’s main agenda of Ram Mandir was not enough for NDA II, Cow politics was raised vehemently and cow vigilantes groups were backed by BJP and grew since as early as 2009. The then Gujarat Chief minister Narendra Modi not only talked about cow protection but he went further ahead and started campaign against Buffalo Meat (Pink Revolution) . MS Golwalkar, the RSS chief between 1940 and 1973, was the brain behind the cow protection movement in the 1960s. The government set up a committee to consider the demand of a nationwide ban on cow slaughter. The committee lasted twelve years. In that period, Golwalkar became friends with one of the committee members, Verghese Kurien, known as the ‘Milkman of India’.
Kurien opposed the ban on cow slaughter for economic reasons — the dairy business needs to get rid of old and unhealthy cows. In his autobiography, Kurien revealed Golwalkar’s real reason for the cow protection movement.
Kurien quoted Golwakar as saying he started the cow protection movement only to embarrass the government. He went around India collecting a million signatures for his petition, and saw in a village in UP a woman who went from house to house in the scorching heat to get more signatures.
Kurien quotes Golwalkar, “This is when I realized that the woman was actually doing it for her cow, which was her bread and butter, and I realized how much potential the cow has… I saw that the cow has potential to unify the country — she symbolizes the culture of Bharat… you agree with me to ban cow slaughter on this committee and I promise you, five years from that date, I will have united the country. What I’m trying to tell you is that I’m not a fool, I’m not a fanatic. I’m just cold-blooded about this. I want to use the cow to bring out our Indianness, So please cooperate with me on this.”
How few Gau Rakshaks turn vigilantes into extortion business
Critics accuse these vigilante groups of targeting people, mostly from the Muslim community.
“It’s a business,” says Noor Mohammad, a social activist who works with Meo-Muslims in Rajasthan’s Mewat region, a hotbed of cow smuggling and slaughter. “The gau rakshaks want money. If you pay them, they let you go. Otherwise they snatch it from you and lodge police complaint against you for cow smuggling,” he says.
Rajasthan’s crime statistics appear to buttress Mohammad’s claim.
In 2015, police closed 73 cases registered under the Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act, 1995, after they were found to be fake. In 2016, 85 such cases were closed and until February this year, five have been dropped.
Nearly 11 months after a mob lynched Mohammed Akhlaq in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh on suspicion of having killed a cow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi , finally broken his silence on the violence that ‘gau rakshaks’ – ‘cow protectors’ – have unleashed in different parts of the country on 6th August 2016.
“I feel really angry at the way some people have opened shops in the name of cow protection. I have seen that some people commit anti-social activities through the night, but act as cow protectors by day”, the prime minister told an audience at a ‘town hall’ style interaction with an invited audience in Delhi
“It will be found that 70 to 80% are people who commit the kind of bad deeds which society does not accept. To hide their bad activities, they don the mantle of cow protectors,” he said.
Timeline of BJP’s Cow Politics and effects after coming to power
March 4 2015: Maharashtra banned beef; anyone found in possession or sale would face five years of jail and a ₹10,000 fine. While a 1976 law prevented the slaughter of cows in Maharashtra, the new Act banned the slaughter of bulls as well as bullocks.
March 16 2015: Haryana passed a stringent bill banning the sale of beef. The law mandated five years of rigorous imprisonment for selling beef — same as that in Maharashtra — and a fine of up to ₹50,000.
May 30 2015 : Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi, 60, was killed in Birloka , in Khimsar tehsil of Nagaur district, Rajasthan after rumours spread that he had killed 200 cows for a feast. Pictures of carcasses were spread on social media. Young men gathered in the thousands in the fields of Kumhari village and brutally murdered him.
August 29 2015: Residents of Chilla village, near east Delhi’s Mayur Vihar, clashed with four truck drivers night who were reportedly transferring buffaloes to a slaughter house in Gazipur.
September 28 2015: A mob lynched Mohammed Akhlaque in Bisada village, Dadri, on allegations of killing a cow and consuming its meat on Eid.
October 1 2015: Six students of Sree Kerala Varma College in Thrissur, Kerala, were suspended for organising a beef fest on campus to protest against the Dadri lynching.
October 6 2015: A cattle trader in Karnataka had a narrow escape after Bajrang Dal activists attacked him with metal rods on a rumour about a stolen cow.
October 9 2015: A mob went on a rampage following rumours that a cow had been slaughtered in Mainpuri district in UP.
October 9 2015: A petrol bomb attack on a Srinagar-bound truck left three men — two Kashmiris and a policeman — battling burn injuries (one of them died later). The truck was set on fire allegedly by rightwing activists in Jammu’s Udhampur district.
October 16 2015: A village mob lynched a man in Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh for alleged cattle smuggling.
October 19 2015: Hindu hardliners threw black ink at J&K MLA Engineer Rashid in Delhi. He was thrashed earlier for holding a beef party in Srinagar.
December 3 2015: Violent clashes broke out in Haryana’s Palwal district when villagers stopped a truck allegedly carrying cow meat.
January 13 2016: Cow protection group attacked a couple at Khirkiya railway station in Madhya Pradesh over allegations that they were carrying beef.
March 18 2016: Two Muslim cattle-traders, including a 15-year-old, were beaten and hanged from a tree in Jharkhand’s Latehar district. Five suspects, including a member of a local gau raksha vigilante group, were later arrested.
April 2 2016: Mustain Abbas was killed, allegedly by Gau Raksha Dal members in Kurukshetra, Haryana while he was transporting a buffalo. The High Court of Punjab and Haryana ordered CBI to probe the murder on May 9.
May 6 2016: The Bombay High Court ruled that it will no longer be illegal to consume or keep imported beef but upheld the Maharashtra government’s ban on slaughter of cows and bullocks.
June 2 2016 : A mob of cow protection activists brutally assaulted alledged cattle smugglers in Rajasthan’s Pratapgarh, they took pictures of his naked body after he fell unconscious from brutality.
June 10 2016: Two ‘beef transporters’ were beaten up and force-fed cow dung allegedly by the Gurgaon Gau Raksha Dal in Haryana.
July 10 2016: Bajrang Dal members brutally attacked a Dalit family in Koppa in Karnataka, claiming there was beef inside their house.
July 11 2016: Seven members of a Dalit family were beaten up by about 35 gau rakshaks for skinning a dead cow in Una, in Gujarat’s Gir Somnath district.
July 26 2016: Two Muslim women were beaten up at Mandsaur railway station in Madhya Pradesh on suspicion of carrying beef.
July 30 2016: A mob attacked the house of a Muslim family on suspicion of cow slaughter in UP’s Muzaffarnagar district.
August 5 2016: Two Dalits thrashed for refusing to remove dead bodies of cows in Lucknow. The Dalit workers were on protest against the growing attacks on community since Una, Gujarat attack.
August 18 2016 : BJP worker Praveen Poojary Killed by Hindu right-wing organisation over cow smuggling suspicion in Udupi, Karnataka.
August 24 2016 : In Mewat, Haryana 10 members of Gau Raksha killed a Muslim couple in their 30s, Rasheedan and Ibrahim, Two other members of their family, Ayesha and Jafruddin, were seriously injured, A 21-year-old woman and 16-year-old girl from the family were gang-raped for allegedly eating beef.
September 18 2016 : Mohammad Ayub Mev 25-year-old was thrashed brutally by cow vigilantes after his pick up truck carrying bullock and calf met with an accident in which the calf died. He later died in hospital due to critical injuries.
March 18 2017 : Hotel Hayat Rabbani in Jaipur sealed by Nagar Nigam after one Kamala Didi of Gau Raksha Dal accused they were feeding beef to cows and organizing beef party in Hotel , they thrashed Qasim ,19 year old helper who was later arrested by Police.
March 22 2017 : Several Meat shops torched and vandalised by cow vigilantes group in Hathras District of U.P. right after BJP coming into power .
March 24 2017 : 12 Slaughterhouses sealed alleging to be without permit across Uttar Pradesh after Yogi Adityanath took the charge as Chief Minister of UP.
March 37 2017 : Seven people, allegedly from a vigilante group, have been arrested for attacking and trying to sexually harass women at a house in Tellar village of Karkala, Udupi, Karnataka. The vigilante group members had entered the victim’s house as they suspected that cattle was being slaughtered illegally.
April 1 2017 : Chhattisgarh’s Chief Minister Raman Singh claimed will hang those who kill cows in his state.
April 4 2017 : 55 years old Dairy Farmer Pehlu Khan died in Alwar, Rajasthan after brutally beaten by cow vigilantes belonging to Hindu Right Wing organisations along with 5 other companions. He was transporting milch cows bought from Jaipur Animal fair to his home town Mewat District in Haryana.
with PTI inputs