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When Cow Vigilantes Lynch A Human Being, It’s Humanity That Dies With Them

Posted by Imran Ali Buth in Politics
July 9, 2017

“Ache Din Aanay Wale Hain” (Good Days are ahead), this was Modi government’s slogan before elections, but we should ask the minorities in India, are they really seeing ‘Ache Din’ (Good Days)? The answer lies in the current national media discourse on cow vigilantism. With the rapid increase in lynching cases in the name of cow protection, since the Modi government came to power, their claim of bringing ‘good days’ seems hollow.

To throw light on the plight of minorities in India, IndiaSpend showed some horrific statistics about deaths caused due to cow vigilantism, based on media surveys, starting from the year 2010. The report claims that 86% of the people who lost their lives in incidents related to cow vigilantism are Muslims. The escalating numbers of such cases, especially after the Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) ascend to power, indicates the political stand of the government.

The incidents like Dadri, Ahmadabad are a blot on India’s name. In the last three years, 97% of these incidents took place with over 20 assaults in the name of cow protection. Beating, thrashing people belonging to minority groups based on accusations of cow slaughtering or beef consuming.

“In about 5% of the attacks, there was no mention of the culprits being arrested, though police registered cases in 21%, or 13, instances. In 23 cases, the attackers were mobs comprising people from various Hindu outfits, such as VHP, Bajrang Dal and local gauraksha committees. About 52% of the incidents were caused by rumors and false intimidation,” reported HuffPost.

Raising concern over the increasing terror of cow vigilantism on minorities, The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) slammed the Central government for acting as mute spectators over the rising cases of lynching. It is “vitiating the social fabric of the country” and endangering the “climate of coexistence” among communities, the NCM said. However, the threat of cow vigilantism has increased since the Centre recently modified an existing law against cruelty to animals, to ban sale and purchase of cattle for slaughter.

Today, the Indian secular stature is incongruous with the current political climate. As soon as the BJP took over the Centre, the communal parties flexed their muscles to smash the minorities. Sensitive issues began unfolding to destabilize the communal harmony of the country and the matters of cow protection were hyped to break the first facet of secularism. The secular veil was stripped off and a communal wave gripped the country unleashing fear and panic over the already subjugated groups.

As Pt Jawaharlal Nehru once said, “The danger to India, mark you, is not communism. It is Hindu right-wing communalism.” (Remarks to Foreign Service Officers in 1959, quoted by Foreign Secretary Y.D. Gundevia in “Outside the Archives”)

As the atmosphere of hate grows in the country, our liberal, democratic spaces are shrinking. However, to challenge the communal narrative a lot of liberals stood up to speak out on this perturbing and diabolic issue of repression growing in the name of cow vigilantism. Something we saw happen in the recent #NotInMyName movement. People across the country, including Delhi, on June 28 raised their voices together against the atrocities committed in the name of cow protection. The demonstration sparked the debate in national media outlets. The latest case that triggered the demonstrations was killing of 15-year-old Junaid Khan who was stabbed to death in Ballabhgarh, Haryana by a mob. Junaid was mocked for his skull cap and called a beef eater after an argument escalated over seats in train. Two of his brothers were also injured in the incident.

When we look at the history of violence related to cow protection in India, the 1880s and 1890s witnessed horrific instances; the cow-killing riots of 1893 were the most intense instances of civil disturbance in India. The rise in number of lynching incidents on cow protection in Modi’s tenure is alarming.  According to Human Rights Watch, there has been a surge in cow vigilante violence since 2015. The surge is attributed to the recent rise in Hindu nationalism in India.

Empowering the Hindu right-wing groups many vigilante groups say they feel “empowered” by the victory of the Hindu nationalist BJP in the 2014 election. However, the Prime Minister denounced the illegitimate cow vigilantism but the rising brutal attacks on Muslims and Dalits by self-declared cow vigilantes is a matter of deep concern.

The cow vigilantism maligns the image of India in the world because lynching and thrashing human beings for cow protection or beef consumption is inhumane and unacceptable in any civilized nation.