Alwar’s cow vigilantism-driven murder is a wake-up call for gau rakshak apologists

That Muslims are being lynched, often fatally, at the slightest pretext by those who have quasi-legal protection from the state is a dangerous sign.

 |  6-minute read |   05-04-2017
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Pehlu Khan was among 15 people who had obtained licence from Jaipur Municipal Corporation to transport a bunch of dairy cows from Rajasthan to Haryana. Yet in Alwar, their trucks were force stopped by cops, while a mob of gau rakshaks assaulted the men, brutalising them so badly that Pehlu Khan died in hospital on Monday night.

A video that has gone viral on social media, the mob is seen assaulting the men in Rajasthan’s Alwar. This, despite the cow ferrying men produced the legal documents that showed they had procured the cows through legal means and were ferrying them for dairy purposes, not slaughter.

However, neither did the permits from Jaipur Pashu Mela (livestock fair), nor the state toll receipts had any impact or dissuade the men out to unleash their zeitgeist in the name of cow protection. Their protestations that they were not cow smugglers, but were traders who dealt in completely legal commerce of milking cows fell into deaf ears.

A reprehensible déjà vu of the Akhlaq murder over beef rumour on WhatsApp, the beating to death of Pehlu Khan is a sign of our dangerous and democratically unsound times. In the name of cow love, human beings of a particular religion or caste are being singled out for rampant bigotry and discrimination that result in extreme violence and in some cases, death of the victims.

To top it all, Rajasthan home minister, Gulab Chand Kataria, instead of condemning the incident whole-scale, actually has the gumption of “blaming both sides”, obfuscating the truth that the men were not smugglers, but engaged in state-permitted legal trade in dairy products such as milk.

Rajasthan police have made 10 arrests, and registered murder charges against five of the cow vigilantes, but why have been the men who were engaged in nothing illegal taken to custody?

The answer lies in the Sangh-engineered and BJP-enabled climate of fear giving cow vigilantism the new quasi-legal status despite there being nothing constitutional about it. The self-appointed moral police target legal cow traders, meat dealers and actually do not stop short at beef at all, going all the way to harass dealers of mutton and chicken in case they happen to be Muslims.

This neo-moral regime of enforced vegetarianism is not only killing India’s gastronomic and cultural plurality, it’s causing widespread panic, fear and loss of traditional employment. The equation of a Hindu India with a false notion of being meat-free, even though almost 80 per cent of Indians are meat-eaters, a majority of Hindus included, there’s no way to convince the Sangh brigade that cow love isn’t an excuse to loot and lynch others.

Just like the new Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who went on a rampage in the first few days since taking the CM’s oath of office to close down countless meat shops that were part of the informal economy of UP, the leaders in BJP-ruled states are using the politics of cow to reap the harvest of induced Islamophobia.

Last month, a mob attacked a hotel in Jaipur on suspicion that beef was being served there. The owner was beaten up severely, and the hotel suffered damage to property. In Gujarat, the punishment for cow slaughter would be life-term after law was changed to bring in the stricter legislation.

However, a BJP leader in Kerala promised good beef to the denizens of the state, pointing the rank opportunism of cow politics and the brouhaha over beef ban.

The murder of Pehlu Khan, Mohammad Akhlaq, the lynching of Dalit men handling cow carcasses in Gujarat, the targeting of cow traders in UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, all point towards the appropriation of the cow as the leitmotif of a zeitgeist India.

Predictably, the chief minister of Rajasthan has not said anything on this heinous crime committed in the name of cow love.

 

Divorced from ground reality, nutritional requirements and tethered to a dangerous obscurantism that has nothing to do with real love for the animals (why else would they be left to eat plastics?) but rather relies on the power play of religious supremacy, cow vigilantism has long crossed the danger mark in the country.

 

Unless, PM Modi ensures that his own words on overzealous gau rakshak brigade (at his first townhall address in Delhi last year) are paid heed to, it will patently unsafe to be a non-Hindu Indian in India.

Also read - How to get away with murder in India? Blame a man for eating beef

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