As the cow took the centrestage in an emotive political debate over beef ban and the sanctity of the animal in the Hindu way of life, a Haryana Minister added fuel to the fire by stating that it should be declared as the national animal in place of the majestic tiger.
The state's Health Minister Anil Vij's tweet today brought the focus back on a demand Indians have raised earlier -- make the cown the national animal.
Declare Cow as National Animal of India instead of Royal Bengal tiger— ANIL VIJ Minister (@anilvijmantri) October 7, 2015
Vij told reporters that he will raise the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Most Hindus, who hold the cow sacred, refered to the animal as 'gau mata', giving it the same respectful stature as that of a mother.
Ever since the a Muslim man was lynched by a mob in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh on the suspicion of killing and eating a cow, several politicians have made incendiary statements on cow slaughter.
Union Minister Mahesh Sharma tried to play down the violence by implying that the lynching was "momentary" lapse of judgement. "Momentarily hai (It was momentary). Gaay ke maans par hum logon ka… andar se aatma hilne lagti hai (On beef… our soul starts shaking)," he told the Indian Express.
Cow killers in Uttar Pradesh would not be spared if BJP comes to power after the 2017 Assembly elections, BJP MLA Sangeet Som had said. "A strong law should be enacted against cow slaughter. Killers should be booked under section 302 of the IPC," he told Mail Today.
The Haryana Assembly in March had passed a Bill which clamps a complete ban on cow slaughter in the state and provides for a rigorous imprisonment ranging from three years to ten years for killing the animal.
The Haryana 'Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan' Bill, 2015, which also provides for a fine from Rs 30,000 to Rs one lakh, was passed by the Assembly on March 16, reported PTI.
The Indian Express reported in May that the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has been flooded with requests from sadhus to make the cow the national animal. Many of these people have met also met Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar. The ministry has refered the matter to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).