Even a month after the murder, allegedly by cow vigilantes, of two Muslim youths from Rajasthan whose charred bodies were found in a vehicle in Bhiwani district of Haryana, the accused remain at large. Joining the clamour for their arrest is the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM). Being stakeholders in the cow trade, cattle farmers’ voice holds weight. Their complaint of self-proclaimed gau rakshak being hooligans in disguise must be addressed. An impartial investigation into their demand to disband the Cow Protection Task Force — which the state had notified in 2021 to check cow smuggling and slaughter — is called for to ascertain if indeed the cow protectors are nothing but criminals.
The SKM’s concern acquires urgency in the wake of certain sections of society across Haryana gathering support for those accused of killing Junaid and Nasir, purportedly in the name of protection of gau mata. For, the farmers, too, are deeply religious and god-fearing and revere the cow. They only want a peaceful ambience to carry on their business, which has been, unfortunately, hit by the cow vigilantes’ illegal version of violent justice. The absence of stern action against the culprits by the authorities concerned reeks of state patronage. The spate of violence against those involved in traditional cow trade in Haryana has dented the state’s image regarding the protection of human rights of minorities. Not surprisingly, the Meo Muslim-dominated Mewat region has borne the brunt of such prejudiced and targeted attacks.
Over the past few years, the vigilantes, allegedly operating in the garb of cow protectors — who have been nominated to help the Haryana Police nab cow smugglers and slayers — have taken over the role of a plundering mafia. Truckers transporting bovines are reportedly allowed safe passage by these thugs only if they cough up huge amounts of money. Those resisting this extortionist loot meet a gory fate. Particularly hit are communities whose livelihoods depend on livestock, including farmers, herders, cattle transporters, meat traders and leather workers. They need protection as much as the cows do.
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