One Pehlu Khan from Haryana came to the cattle fair in Jaipur to purchase a buffalo. He was a dairy farmer. In the fair he was impressed by high milk yielding Cow and bought that instead of his plan of buying a buffalo. On way back in Alwar ‘Go Rakshak’ (Protectors of Cow) attacked his group and mercilessly beat them up. (April 05, 2017) In the attack Pehlu Khan died. Police was no where around when the brutal beating was going on. Police explained that there are Cow smugglers who escaped their watch and were caught by Go Rakshaks. Not only was this murder was done in broad daylight, the assailants were very bold and shared videos of the lynching on mobile. The Rajasthan Minister in charge said that it is OK for cow protectors to catch these smugglers but should not take law in to their hands. BJP’s Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, to promote his party’s cow protection agenda, denied that any such killing has taken place. Pehlu Khan had all his papers in place to show the purchase of cow and to take it to Haryana.
This is the latest in the series of mob lynchings in the name of cow. Earlier we had witnessed that In UP Dadri, the local mob with few of those who were part of BJP lynched Mohamad Akhlaq on the charge that he had killed the calf. The state of affairs of our communalized police is starkly clear. In case of Dadri lynching Aklaq was charged with Cow slaughter and now a case has been filed against Pehlu Khan for doing illegal smuggling of cow! One recalls that in Una many dalit youth were mercilessly beaten by the cow vigilantes.
It is during last three years, with Modi Government (BJP-RSS) coming to power in the centre that such incidents and brutality of Go Rakshaks is going up by leaps and bounds. Number of Cow protection groups, inspired by VHP has sprung up. Now they feel that it is their own Government and that they can get away with whatever they do. As such what does the law say? Rajni K. Dixit in Kafila.in tells us that “ In the Constitution of India, prohibition of cow slaughter is included in the Directive Principles of State Policy (guidelines to the central and state government for framing policies, not enforceable in any court of law). The directives on cow slaughter are recorded in Article 48 which reads “The state shall endeavor to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds and prohibiting the slaughter of cows, calves and other milch and draught cattle” (Directive Principles of State Policy, Ministry of Law and Justice).” (https://kafila.online/2017/04/04/bovines-india-and-hinduism-rajani-k-dixit/ )
It is abundantly clear that ban is on the milch cattle not the others. Also what the Constitution recognizes is the economic and ecological dimensions of the issue, not the religious one. Over a period of time as the power of BJP-RSS has been going up, the laws are being made more stringent in state after state, more particularly in the BJP ruled states. With BJP led Government coming to power in various intimidating interpretations of laws began.
This makes it clear that, the laws which came to be made over a period of time are in variance to the Directive principles envisaged by our founders. They are not against the slaughter of cows, but of milch cattle in general, and not for religious but for economic reasons. Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh says that they will hang anybody indulging in cow slaughter. Vijay Roopani, CM of Gujarat, got the penalty for cow slaughter extended to life imprisonment. On the top of that he has pledged that he will convert Gujarat into totally vegetarian state. Yogi Adityanath has not only talked against the cow slaughter (Which any way is banned in UP) but has acted even against those selling mutton and chicken. Yogi had shown his colors earlier also when at the time of Dadri lynching he had offered Guns to Hindus. Taking the cue from UP’s Yogi; BJP ruled states of Uttarakhand, MP and Rajastan have begun to crack the whip on slaughter houses and retail shops. Meanwhile VHP has other state Governments should emulate the laws of Gujarat with respect to Cow!
There is another shade to the BJP-Beef story. BJP candidate for Assembly in Mallapuram, Kerala, N.Sriprakash stated that he will ensure the availability of good quality beef in his constituency if he wins the elections. As per him “BJP has no objection towards consuming beef. The party has not banned beef in any of the states. Only cow slaughter was banned. There is no issue in consuming food of one’s choice,” In Kerala and North Eastern states BJP dare not raise the issue of Beef. In Assam elections it had particularly promised that there will be no tampering with existing dietary practice.
A Two layered hysteria is on at the moment, particularly after Yogi becoming CM in UP. One is the intensification of attacks around Cow. Two, the general tirade against non vegetarian food and harassment of meat-Chicken traders has been stepped up. In Bengal consumption of fish is being criticized. In overzealous Gujarat the march towards total vegetarianism is planned.
Is it a matter of religion? No way! BJP’s language in cow belt (UP, Rajasthan Haryana, MP) is different from its language in Kerala, Goa, Kashmir and North Eastern states. In other states it talks of respecting the food culture of local people. What about the diverse food culture of these states where the Gorakshkas are rampaging? This is totally against Indian culture and the norms of Indian Constitution. This is an attempt to impose the RSS-BJP-Brahmanical norms over the whole society and to intimidate the minorities in particular, to browbeat others who have different choices. As a byproduct of this identity related issue the economy will be suffering tremendously. The Cattle fairs in different places are being stopped, meat export will be declining and the ruin of farmers and dairy farmers is a foregone conclusion.
Ram Puniyani was a professor in biomedical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, and took voluntary retirement in December 2004 to work full time for communal harmony in India. He is involved with human rights activities from last two decades.He is associated with various secular and democratic initiatives like All India Secular Forum, Center for Study of Society and Secularism and ANHAD. Response only to firstname.lastname@example.org