Why cow protection movement should be warning signal for Akali Dal in Punjab

Protection of cows is an emotive issue on which the BJP can hope to get support of the public.

Rajendra Khatry December 29, 2014 20:07:57 IST
Why cow protection movement should be warning signal for Akali Dal in Punjab

Chandigarh: The BJP is bracing itself for a separation from the Akali Dal in Punjab. It has been in the news for some days, but here comes proof that it is might be giving it a serious thought to it. The party, according to sources, has extended silent support to the cow protection movement by Gausewa Mission led by Swami Krishnanand in the state.

Ever since the Shiromani Akali Dal campaigned for the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in Haryana in the Haryana Assembly elections, relations between the SAD and the BJP have been strained. Despite strong objection from the Haryana BJP, the former had campaigned for its adversary. Since the BJP has been winning elections in the country and states single handedly over the last few months, there is a feeling that in future this could happen in Punjab as well where the BJP has a coalition government with SAD. In that case the BJP would like to prepare a solid ground for itself from now itself, though assembly elections are more than two years away in 2017.

Why cow protection movement should be warning signal for Akali Dal in Punjab

Representational Image. AFP.

Protection of cows is an emotive issue on which the BJP can hope to get support of the public. Perhaps in that connection some BJP leaders of the state have reportedly raised concerns about the plight of cows in Punjab. According to them, the Parkash Singh Badal government of the state has not released adequate funds for the Cow Memorial, cow shelters and power and water bills of gaushalas (cow shelters) in the state.

The recovery of cow carcasses at Joga town of Mansa in June 2012 is still fresh in the minds of the people of Punjab. The sensitive issue had sparked riots in Mansa that the government had found difficult to control. However, once the situation had calmed down, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had announced a slew of measures to ensure such incidents did not take place in the state again.

The BJP has also shown concern about why the Cow Commission has not yet become functional in Punjab. The commission will have special powers for welfare and protection of cows. It will ensure strict implementation of the Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955. The Commission will also ensure development of desi cows and send seized strary cows to the care of gaushalas.
Nawanshahar, Punjab based Gausewa Mission of Swami Krishnanand, which takes care of thousands of stray cows in the state in various gaushalas, has now launched an agitation against the discrimination to the cows of the state. Leaders of the Mission plans to not just register a formal complaint in this regard with the Punjab chief minister, but also gherao houses of Akali leaders and chief minister Badal in Chandigarh if the demands are not met soon.

Speaking to Firstpost, Swami Krishnanand said for long they have been demanding the state government to take care of the cows. "Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal himself promised to provide more facilities to the cows. We demand that the government should provide grazing grounds for cows to the various gaushalas. More than 1.50 lakh acres of grazing grounds of the state are now under the occupation of the land mafia. The Punjab government should immediately free such lands from the illegal occupation of the land mafia if it is serious about feeding the 22 lakh cows of the state properly. The government should impose a complete ban on cow slaughter, it should close down all the abattoirs in the state, not allow any new ones to come up and enact law to ensure death penalty for cow slaughter," he says.

Krishnanand says they will not rest till the Punjab government takes necessary steps for the protection and care of the cows.

"We demand free water and power facility to the 430 gaushalas of Punjab, enough grazing grounds, free tudi (cow feed). If the Punjab government can give funds to the tune of Rs 1,500 crore for the upkeep of the Gurdwaras, why can’t it give a fraction of that amount for the welfare of the cows," he says.

"We are going to hold a protest march in Chandigarh on 29 December and gherao Punjab Chief Minister Badal’s residence if our demands are not met by then. Represntatives of all the 430 gaushalas of Punjab would participate in the proposed agitation. We have already informed Punjab ministers, legislators and others about our protest at the end of this month and hope that better sense prevails on all and like-minded people and parties will come out in our support," he said.

Kamal Sharma, Punjab BJP president, however, sought to play the matter down. "The government has taken many steps to protect cows, some of its promises are still to be fulfilled. These include naming the chairman, vice chairman and other members of the Cow Commission of Punjab, building a memorial for the cows in Mansa district, and providing more facilities to the gaushalas. But these will also be done in due course of time," he said.

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