Why three innocent men had to die to save the cows

Asit Jolly
Asit JollyOct 19, 2015 | 09:21

Why three innocent men had to die to save the cows

Exactly a year ago, on October 3, 2014, Ram Bilas Sharma, president of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the then poll-bound Haryana, proudly proclaimed that if it came to power his party would ensure that "cow slaughter is treated as a crime as heinous as murder".

Sharma, who was subsequently made Haryana's minister for education and tourism and cultural affairs, said his piece at the release of the party's election manifesto amid beaming approval from a galaxy of the state BJP leaders and national spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi who acquiesced albeit without comment.


Although Sharma's bristling, "death-to-cow-killers", tenor had surprised many at the time but it was cursorily discarded as electoral rhetoric not worthy of particular notice.

Any lingering recall was lost in the yearlong lull of governance that ended this week with the chief minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pracharak of four decades standing, unhesitatingly declaring that "Muslims can live in this country but they will have to give up eating beef".

Responding on cue, following the predictable furore, CM Khattar, initially in denial, later "regretted" his words before presenting himself for, what we are told, was "a firm dressing down" from the BJP president Amit Shah in Delhi on October 18.

In all this, Ram Bilas Sharma - yes, the man who promised death to cow killers - insists that the "BJP remains committed to cow protection". This while another cabinet minister from the state, Anil Vij, who hold portfolios for health and sports, is, believe it or not, currently running an online poll seeking support to replace the tiger with the cow as India's national animal.


And perhaps no longer far removed from the Haryanvi hinterland, the saffron-clad BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj, on October 17, too echoed Sharma in his "death for cow killers" rant.

The cover story in this week's Panchjanya - endorsing the public lynching of cow killers (even suspected cow killers?) - must come as vindication for the veritable rush of politicians, including our Haryanvi brothers, standing stoutly in defence of the mother cow.

Of course, there will be collateral damage to their mindful blitzkrieg: Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri; Noman in Nahan; and now, Zahid, the 20-year-old truck driver, who was attacked with petrol bombs in Udhampur following rumours of beef smuggling ten days ago.

Last updated: October 20, 2015 | 11:17
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