Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent a stern message to cow vigilantes in the country saying that killing in the name of cow is unacceptable. He was speaking at the centenary celebrations of the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad in Gujarat.
In possibly one of the strongest indictments till date over rampant cow vigilantism that has taken over the nation, the Prime Minister “Killing people in the name of cow is unacceptable. No one has the right to take law into his/her hands. We belong to a land of non-violence. Violence is not the solution to any problem.”
In a strong message to cow vigilantes, a visibly charged up PM Modi invoked Mahatma Gandhi to slam those involved in violence in the name of protecting cows
The issue of cow-protection has come to the centre stage as a number of people, many of them Muslims, have been lynched, beaten and intimidated for transporting cows and other cattle. Even government rules regarding cattle slaughter have added to the atmosphere of fear and confusion.
A notification by the government in May stated that people buying and selling cattle in markets must submit in writing that it is not meant for slaughter. Further, a market committee would have to be formed in every cattle market and fair to enforce this provision. The government argued that the rules were meant for preventing cruelty to animals.
PM Modi said that, “Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave have shown us what real gau raksha is. There is no place for violence in society.” He added that killing a person does not qualify as cow protection.
The remarks come in the backdrop of several incidents of lynching and murder of people by self-styled cow vigilante groups over rumours of cow slaughter. The most recent incident was the murder of 15-year-old Junaid Khan by a group of people on a Mathura-bound train in Ballabhgarh in Haryana after an argument escalated over seats.
Junaid, who was accompanied by his two brothers, was going back home after Eid shopping when he was mocked over his skull cap and referred to as a ‘beef-eater.’ Five people including two Delhi government employees were arrested on Wednesday so far.
A string of lynchings has put the spotlight on cow protectors. One of the most high-profile was Pehlu Khan, a farmer from Haryana who was murdered in April by so-called cow protectors in Rajasthan while transporting cows legally purchased from a market in Jaipur. Mohammad Akhlaque, a resident of Bisara village in Greater Noida was lynched in 2015 on suspicion of storing beef in his fridge.
This is not for the first time PM Modi has admonished cow vigilantes.
The Prime Minister had come down heavily on the gau-rakshaks last year in the wake of numerous attacks on Dalits in the name of cow vigilantism. Lashing out at them, Narendra Modi, while addressing a townhall meet in the national capital in August 2016, had said that pseudo-gau-rakshaks were indulging in anti-social activities.
PM Modi had said these so-called gau-rakshaks, who claimed to be protectors during the day, often resorted to criminal activities at night. Expressing his anger against such people, he had said they had opened shops in the name of gau-raksha.
The Prime Minister had said some people indulged in anti-social activities but in the morning, they became gau-rakshaks.
Sending a stern message against cow vigilantism, Modi had urged the states to open dossiers to see how many of them were criminals.
On Wednesday, demonstrations were carried out by citizens under the banner of ‘Not In My Name’ at Jantar Mantar in Delhi and several other cities across the country protesting the government’s silence over such attacks on Dalits and minorities. People held banners saying ‘All lives matter’ and ‘Muslim lives matter.’
The spurt in such incidents have even spurred nationwide outrage with various groups gathering in protests across prominent metro cities in the nation.
Thousands of people across the country had on Tuesday taken to the streets in a citizens’ protest named ‘Not in My Name’ against the recent incidents of mob killings. Holding placards that read: “Break the Silence”, “No Place for Islamophobia” and “Shed Hate not Blood” among others, the protesters had said they had gathered to send out a message that there is a need to unite for a cause.