If keeping cows out of your business was your way of staying out of trouble with gau rakshaks, we regret to inform you, you were wrong.
A BA second year student, Shivam, was stabbed by alleged members of a cow protection group, who had gathered in Gohana town of Haryana's Sonepat district to protest against a rally against beef ban in Kerala.
His offence? Being mistakenly thought of as a journalist, since he was accompanied by a friend, who really happened to be one.
Members of the Gau Raksha Seva Dal were infuriated with those in the Youth Congress in Kerala who had slaughtered a calf during a rally, cooked its meat and ate it, to express their dissent against the modified law that does not allow sale and purchase of cattle for slaughter across India.
As the group was handing out pamphlets demanding the 'offenders' in Kerala be charged with sedition, a few of the men asked Shivam to take photographs of their agitation, since he was holding a camera. When he refused to do, not being a photographer himself, a fierce altercation broke out.
According to reports, Shivam then approached the police to intervene in the argument, but was stabbed thrice by the main accused when he went back with a constable to detain him. At present, Shivam is in a hospital in Delhi fighting for his life.
Incidents of cow vigilantism have taken a toll on innocent citizens over the last couple of years. In 2015, Mohammad Akhlaq was hounded out of his home in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, on the suspicion of keeping beef in his fridge at home. Later, he was lynched in broad daylight.
Dalits in Gujarat were beaten up for removing the carcasses of cows—a service the lower castes have rendered to society for generations. A dairy farmer in Rajasthan was assaulted to death by a mob for ferrying cattle from an animal market—his attackers presumed he was taking them to slaughter.
So the list of hideous mistakes runs on.
Through all these incidents, the ruling government, led by the BJP, has been consistent in its silence, or delay in condemning, these heinous crimes. A whiff of a suspicion in the case of a dead cow may be all it needs for the rabble-rousers to come out on the streets in their full violent glory.
Yet murder after murder of human beings falsely accused of crimes related to bovines don't seem to elicit a fraction of the passion that a dead cow does in these self-appointed vigilante groups.
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