Do cows have a religion? Thats the issue predominant in my mind. We might adapt them as our symbol of love and attention, but do they really care? They have lived happily in homes whether Hindu or Muslim, and if we must fight against anything, it should be against ill-treatment of all animals. And now, of their owners too.
It's nice to have a symbol of course, and I remember a time when the cow and her calf was really the symbol of the Congress party. Where did that iconic symbol go, before it was cruelly crushed by the "hand"?
For many of us, it's the words of the Sufi singer, Bulle Shah which ring true. If your religion lies in the meat you eat, then understandably all vegetarians must be pious creatures. And should they also be non-violent? Or can you be pious and violent at the same time?
As Bulle Shah sang centuries ago:
But who is to judge who is pure? Could the 12-year-old who took his father's buffaloes to the market to sell for his sister's wedding be anything less? And yet he was not allowed to live, because his religion made him suspect? Are these incidents being deliberately organised? Are these vigilante mobs on their own trip or are they part of an organised plot?
Or are these mobs being deliberately instigated (as some say) to tarnish India's image? To make the government look fanatical? It's also curious why these fringe elements begin to get active before an election.
Mobs cannot decide who is pure of heart, because they are only driven by deliberately fuelled anger, and ill-judgement. These incidents are by themselves a deepening wound on our psyche - why would anyone deny a cowherd, or the child of a cowherd the right to go to the market? And kill him for it?
Even if few, these incidents must be severely condemned. The numbers killed don't matter. This is not about a community, but about individual lives ultimately, it is about creating a safe and secure society for everyone.
In fact, it is now upto the government to declare a strong policy against these fringe vigilante groups indulging in unlawful killings. That will send a strong message.
After all, we are a country of cowherds, a country where the pastoral idyllic exchange between Radha and Krishna is celebrated with joy by all communities. But we are also a modern society, where each individual should enjoy the safety and security of his or her profession and religion.