Cow is an excuse

ANOTHER vigilante action, another Muslim dead. This time in Rajasthan. But the beating of five persons transporting milch cows, leading to the death of a 55-year-old man, Pehlu Khan, was not surprising even if it was shocking.

laxmi@tribune.com

ANOTHER vigilante action, another Muslim dead. This time in Rajasthan. But the beating of five persons transporting milch cows, leading to the death of a 55-year-old man, Pehlu Khan, was not surprising even if it was shocking. Circumstances of the case make it obvious that it was not part of any attempt to prevent smuggling of cows. It was an assault on a particular religious identity. For one, anyone familiar with cattle — especially those who claim to be passionately devoted to it — should be able to tell condemned cattle from a milch cow, as was the case here. Then, the man who died had documents to show he purchased the cows for milk as he ran a dairy. The more pertinent bit, however, is that one Hindu driver was let off by the gang, even though he was as much a part of the crew transporting the cattle.

The disturbing aspect is that this is not an action of “fringe elements”, if there is still any distinction to be made within the communal monolith called the “Sangh”. The police were as quick as the “gau rakshaks” to accuse the cattle buyers of being smuggles, and booked them too without even preliminary inquiries. The Rajasthan Home Minister defended the police action, and even the need for “gau rakshaks” to prevent cattle smuggling. Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said in the Rajya Sabha that the incident had been misreported. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the BJP to deny that it supports such vigilante action, given the systematic persecution of meat traders in certain states. UP has also seen “anti-Romeo squads” and instructions for teachers on how to dress “decently”.

The fast evolving cultural tyranny needs to be recognised for what it is — a devious ploy at sustaining animosity on communal lines. The motives for this are as much political as a sincere faith in a medieval ideology, not very different from the extreme Islamic intrusion seen in all public institutions in Pakistan. Unless this is understood, and no less than the top leadership of the BJP moves to put a stop to the moral policing, the consequences also may be very similar to as in Pakistan.

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