The Prime Minister came out with statements condemning the act of Cow vigilante groups. By stating that most of self styled cow protectors are anti-social elements, he tried to create a dichotomy that there are fake and real protectors. Fake protectors are into anti social activities, resort to violence, and ignore important issues such as cow deaths due to consumption of plastics. On the other hand the real protectors are non-violent, socially constructive and take up genuine issues related to cow. A statement by RSS Chief Suresh Bhiayyaji was released immediately in which he said that such groups should not be linked to those who carry out pious work in cow protection. The process of creating this dichotomy is only an attempt at depicting the Sanghi affiliated cow protection groups as non-violent, socially constructive and genuine and being different from other groups.
In such circumstances, it would be important to look into the statements by some of the RSS affiliated groups on cow issue. Sadhvi Prachi, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader earlier in the year referring to violence in Dadri had mentioned that “those who consume beef deserve such actions against them”. National Convener of Bajrang Dal a day before the statement by prime minister stated “those involved in smuggling and slaughter of cows will not get spared. Dadri is an example of this”. BJPs Raja Singh referring to Gujarat event had mentioned in his facebook posting that “those Dalits who were taking the cow, the cow meat, those who were beaten, it was a very good thing to happen”. Each of these statements clearly shows that there is a thin line between fake and real protectors. Those who resort to violence (by fake protectors) are justified by the Sanghi groups (real protectors). VHP (real protectors) a part of the Sangh Parivar and other vigilante groups (fake protectors) both are questioning the PM for being critical of Gow Rakshaks. So what is the line of control between fake and real?
It is also important to look into their texts on cow protection which incites violence provoking thoughts. RSS texts do invoke hatred in the name of cow through equating beef eating to Religion. Golwalkar in Bunch of thoughts mentions that “We are to protect the cow not because the cow has been for ages an emblem of Hindu devotion but because the Muslims kill it”. Anyone within its consideration of Hindu fold but into eating beef is automatically termed to be culturallyin non-Hindu category. Referring to a person who questioned practice of eating beef by a Hindu, it states “Muslims and their vices had left their deep impress upon his mind and made him culturally a Muslim, though he remained politically a Hindu”. Referring to beef eating by a Muslim, it also states “If we worship cow, he would like to eat it.”This logic only means that all categories in Hindu fold who are into eating beef are Muslims. The RSS official mouthpiece Organizertoo earlier published a front page article statingthat the Vedassanctioned the killing of anyone who slaughtered a cow.Taken together these only mean that the act of resorting to violence in the name of cow slaughter is justified.
Violence in the name of cow protection has been integral part of Hindu mobilization by Sangh Parivar. In 2002, five Dalits were lynched to death in Jhajjar, Haryana, by a frenzied mob. At the heart of the incident was the cow-slaughter theory. In January 2003, VHP attacked home of a Muslimunder the pretext of cow slaughtering. Within hours 132 of 144 Muslim shops were burnt by Sangh Parivar. Dadri and Gujarat incidents are only the recent ones. Such instances only show that non-violent nature of real cow protectors in the form of sangh parivar is only an illusion.
It is also important to note that what the Prime minister claims to be fake Cow protectors were more emboldened in BJP ruled states. Bhartiya Gow Raksha Dal incidents of lynching cattle traders, mostly from minority Muslim community and Dalits are in BJP-led states like Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Hence it lends little credibility to the point that state governments should maintain dossiers and keep a watch of such protectors.
Ideological basis of Hindutva and actions by Sangh Parivar only lend little credence to the fake vs. real cow protectors.
T. Navin works with an NGO as a Researcher. He did his M.Phil in Political Science from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).