Cow slaughter row: Narendra Modi has condemned gau rakshaks, but when will he act?
Is gau raksha violence, meaning the killing of Indians over beef, a problem in India? If so, what can be done to solve it?
Is gau rakshak violence — meaning the killing of Indians over beef — a problem in India? If so, what can be done to solve it?
The non-profit data journalism website Indiaspend reported that 97% of gau rakshak violence occurred after the Modi government came to power.
Once the Union and state governments run by the BJP in Maharashtra, Haryana and elsewhere began to push for a beef ban, the murders began.
The facts here are clear and to illustrate them, let’s have a look just at the last few weeks and what has happened across India.
Jharkhand, 29 June
Alimuddin Ansari, a trader, was killed after being assaulted by a mob in Ramgarh, near Ranchi. This happened hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he opposed violence.
Jharkhand, 27 June
Usman Ansari, a dairy farmer, was beaten up by a mob of about 100 people and part of his house set on fire, reportedly after a dead cow was found outside his house. Police officials told journalists that the attackers also threw stones at them, injuring 50 police personnel.
West Bengal, 24 June
Nasirul Haque, Mohammed Samiruddin and Mohammed Nasir, three construction workers, were beaten to death by a mob, allegedly for stealing cows, in North Dinajpur, West Bengal. Three people have been arrested so far, and a murder case registered.
Haryana, 22 June
15-year-old Hafiz Junaid was stabbed to death inside a train in Haryana. Junaid was called a ‘beef-eater’, and his skull cap thrown away, before he was stabbed. His brother was severely injured. Survivors’ accounts in some media reports say that at least 20 people were involved in the attack. The state police have arrested one person.
Maharashtra, 26 May
Two Muslim meat traders were attacked by a cow vigilante squad in Malegaon, Maharashtra on suspicion of possessing beef. Video footage of the incident appeared to show the men being slapped and abused, and told to say “Jai Sri Ram” (Hail Lord Ram). Nine men have been arrested. However, the two meat traders also face criminal charges for “outraging religious feelings”.
Assam, 30 April
Abu Hanifa and Riazuddin Ali were lynched by a mob in Nagaon, Assam on suspicion of cow theft. The police have registered a murder case, but have not yet made any arrests.
Rajasthan, 1 April
55-year-old Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer, and four other Muslim men were assaulted by a mob near a highway in Alwar, Rajasthan. Khan died two days later. The mob falsely accused the men of being cow smugglers. Following the killing, the Rajasthan home minister, in a statement that appeared to justify the killing, said that Khan belonged to a family of cow smugglers. Three people have been arrested.
When the Jharkhand lynching of 27 June occurred, Indians rallied across the country to say that these killings were happening under government protection and they should be stopped.
Modi tweeted a couple of days later: "There is no place for violence in India. Let us create an India that would make Gandhi ji proud." The tweet had a video attached that is 2 minutes and 16 seconds long.
There is no place for violence in India. Let us create an India that would make Gandhi Ji proud. pic.twitter.com/NZS1svMOpY
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 29, 2017
It is a speech Modi gave in Gujarat on 29 June, where he spoke on cow slaughter. One minute and 45 seconds of that clip are Modi praising gau raksha. In the last 30 seconds he speaks about violence but says only that killing is unacceptable.
Of course it is. We don’t need the prime minister to tell us that. We need him to tell us why the killing is happening and what he will do to stop it. The problem can be understood in the priorities as revealed in those 2 minutes and 16 seconds. So long as Modi and the BJP push gau raksha, India will produce gau rakshaks. It should not be difficult to understand.
There is a second problem: The refusal of Modi and the BJP to accept that their actions have a communal angle. Meat and leather are the occupations of Muslims and Dalits. These are the communities that have become vulnerable because of gau raksha and to deny that is hypocrisy.
Union minister Venkaiah Naidu said after the latest killing in Jharkhand that it should not be linked to religion. The problem is that the data shows Naidu to be wrong. It is linked to religion if it is only, or mainly, Muslims that are being assaulted and murdered by the gau rakshaks.
The Congress does not have a real position on this. In Gujarat it has spoken in favour of gau raksha, even as individuals in the party have attacked the government. Former Union minister P Chidambaram said after Modi’s speech that “on a day when PM warned gau rakshaks, Mohd Alimuddin was lynched by a mob in Jharkhand. Obviously, lynch mobs don't fear PM.” He added, "PM warned gau rakshaks and lynch mobs. Good. Let him tell the country how he will enforce his writ.”
Indiaspend says that 25 attacks happened in 2016. In 2017, in only six months, already 21 attacks have taken place. The problem is escalating and obvious. The whole world is waiting to see how Modi will put an end to it.
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