17/07/2017 4:23 PM IST | Updated 17/07/2017 4:24 PM IST

Why The Hounding Of The Victims Of Mob Violence Must Immediately Stop

FIRs against victims of cow vigilantism are making the attackers bolder.


BJP worker Salim Shah, who was accused of carrying beef and beaten up by self-proclaimed cow protectors in Maharashtra's Katol, has now been arrested after forensic reports confirmed that he was carrying beef.

PTI quoted SP Shailesh Balkawde as saying that Shah was arrested on Sunday night and he was remanded in police custody for one day. He said a case has been registered at the Jalalkheda police station.

Shah was arrested under a law in Maharashtra that bans beef slaughter in the state.

A member of the BJP's Katol unit in Maharashtra, Shah was attacked by a group of men on suspicion of carrying beef. He was beaten up despite telling the attackers that he was a member of the BJP.

The meat that he was carrying was sent for a test, and reports confirmed that it was beef.

The Times of India had earlier reported that a case had been registered against Shah even before it was confirmed that the meat was beef. Four men have been arrested for the assault.

Meanwhile, the BJP has distanced itself from the issue and has expelled Shah from the party. There is only a one liner condemning the assault on him.

The Times of India quoted BJP district president of Nagpur rural, Dr Rajiv Potdar, as saying, "Initially, we had backed Shah for being targeted. Now that the test confirmed that he was carrying beef, the party has decided to expel him. However, we condemn the action by those who assaulted Shah as things could have taken a different course too."

Shah's arrest and expulsion come a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reiterated that attacks in the name of gau raksha were not acceptable.

At an all party meeting, Modi said, "Desh ki chhavi par bhi iska asar pad raha hai. Rajya sarkaron ko aise asamajik tatwon par kathor karwaee karni chahiye. Gau raksha ko kuchh asamajik tatwon ne arajakta failane ka madhyam bana liya hai. Iska fayda desh me sauhardya bigadne me lage log bhi utha rahe hain. (Such incidents have an effect on the image of the country. State governments should take stringent action against these anti-social elements. Some people have made gau raksha an excuse to spread anarchy. And people who are engaged in spoiling the social harmony in the country.)"

While PM Modi may want the states to take strict action, in past cases of cow vigilantism that has cost people their lives, the state seems to have gone after the victims rather that the perpetrators.

Pehlu Khan's name was in the headlines in April because he was killed by cow vigilantes, who accused him of being a cow smuggler. In reality, Khan was a dairy farmer. A gruesome video of the incident was circulating in social media.

Bu soon after Khan's murder, his family became the immediate target of the police, and not the thugs that Modi spoke about in his speech.

After the attack, the Rajasthan police had registered an FIR against Khan's family members accompanying him on the fateful day, despite his sons saying that they had the receipts for the purchase of the cows with stamps from the Jaipur Municipal Corporation.

It was reported that wallets and cellphones of the victims had also been stolen.

Not just an FIR, there was no sign of empathy for the victims from the government. Home minister Gulab Chand Kataria had said after the incident, "Both parties are to blame and action would be taken against all involved. Now, some cow protection squads try to stop these people as per law. But taking law into their own hands is not allowed."

Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had been silent on the issue.

The family of the Dadri lynching victim, Mohammed Akhlaq, faced similar allegations and FIRs.

Akhlaq was killed by a violent mob in Uttar Pradesh's Bisara village in 2015. A year later, an FIR was registered against Akhalaq's family on the basis of complaints by his neighbours, who also took part in the lynching. Also a forensic report had said that the meet found in Akhlaq's home was beef.

Akhlaq's brother Jan Mohammad was named as the prime accused in the case, while his mother Asgari and wife Ikraman were also named as accused.

The Allahabad High Court later stayed the arrest of Akhalaq's family.

Three years down the line, after protests and strong words of condemnation from the PM, Shah faces the same fate as that of other victims of cow vigilantism when it comes to authorities taking action.

And perhaps such lack of action against these vigilantes is making them bolder, readier for the next attack.

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