Legitimising the cow vigilantism? Maharashtra govt to issue official IDs to 'gau rakshaks'

As many as 2,388 applicants are apparently coveting the non-salaried position of welfare officers to serve as “eyes to monitor the beef ban” imposed by the Maharashtra state government last year, reported The Indian Express.

Earlier in May, the state's animal husbandry department had issued an advert calling for volunteers “engaged in animal welfare activities on religious grounds” to help monitor the ban.

The report further stated that the government will legitimise the move by granting official ID cards to the welfare officers, once they are appointed, to monitor and report any act of animal cruelty.

Legitimising the cow vigilantism? Maharashtra govt to issue official IDs to gau rakshaks

Digvijay Nath Tiwari, the commander of a Hindu nationalist vigilante group established to protect cows, with animals he claimed to have saved from slaughter, in Agra. Reuters

Furthermore, even as the government advert stated clearly that the volunteers should have no political affiliations, many applications which were 'cleared' included those who admitted to being members of various Hindutva outfits.

Not surprisingly, these include members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Ram Sena, Hindu Sena, Shiv Sena, Durgavahini, Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Interestingly, the report also stated that almost 60 percent of the applicants have identified themselves as “gau rakshaks” with affiliation to existing gaushalas and gau rakshan samitis.

If they are indeed given a chance, won't it bolster their confidence?

Cow vigilantism or menace?

Be it flogging of the Dalit youths in Una, Gujarat for skinning a dead cow or the case of Mohammad Aklaq who was lynched to death by a mob of Hindus for consumption of beef, cow 'vigilantism' has gripped the country like never before.

So much so, that these self-proclaimed cow protectors have spread their tentacles in Mumbai as well and are not ashamed to impose their gau-friendly "rules" openly. On Sunday, Barun Kashyap, a man hailing from Assam was allegedly harassed by a vigilante group in Mumbai over a leather bag, which they thought is made of cow skin.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently denounced only the 'fake' cow vigilantes in the country as 'anti-socials' and asked the state governments to take action against them.

"Beware of nakli gau rakshak (fake cow vigilantes)," the Prime Minister said in Medak, Telangana at the inauguration of the first phase of the NTPC super thermal power project in August.

"The cow protection which Mahatma Gandhi used to talk about cannot be wrong. But these fake gau rakshaks are not concerned about cows. The states should conduct a strict investigation against these gau rakshaks. Even a true gau rakshak should be vigilant so that these fake people do not spread tension in the society," the PM further said.

How does it matter if a gau rakshak is true or fake when the only language they speak of is violence? What the 'true' gau rakshaks did to the Dalit youths in Una, to Mohammad Aklaq in Dadri or to Barun Kashyap in Mumbai in the name of the 'holy' cow was legit? How effective would the Prime Minister's call be when he himself pledges allegiance to a party and organisation motivated by strong Hindutva ideology? Why is it not surprising that many of these vigilantes, which are now proudly coming out in the open, have some or the other connection to the Hindutva groups? Which part of Hindutva ideology talks of lynching or harassing those who possess or consume beef? What according to these 'gau rakshaks' should one do if the cow dies?

'Protecting a cow' is not wrong but using wayward methods on those who do not subscribe to the same ideology is. There are several other ways to 'protect the holy cow' but hooliganism is definitely not one of them.

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Updated Date: Aug 23, 2016 21:50:31 IST

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