Barely a day has passed since Prime Minister Narendra Modi reprimanded “self-styled” cow vigilante groups, and gau rakshaks have upped their ante. A cow vigilante group from Karnataka has written to Modi demanding stricter punishment for cow slaughter.
The group from Karnataka has demanded that a central anti-cow slaughter act be enacted nationwide which promises stringent punishment to the ‘perpetrators’, according to CNN-News 18.
— News18 (@CNNnews18) August 7, 2016
The demand comes on the thresholds of Modi’s statement in his first townhall-styled citizen interaction in India on Saturday. Breaking his silence on the heated debate around the atrocities on Dalits in the name of ‘gau raksha’, Modi had said that he was outraged at such self-styled cow vigilante groups who pretended to be cow protectors in the day only to hide the anti-social activities they indulged in during the night. “Some people who have opened their shops in the name of cow protectors, I feel anguished by them. Gau sevaks and gau protectors are both very different,” Modi had said.
Modi also said that any kind of activism, let alone gau raksha, cannot involve torturing human beings. In what could be seen as an attempt to purge the anti-Dalit image of the RSS, Modi said “swayamsevak” (the term commonly associated with RSS cadres) means “selfless service”. A swayamsevak cannot be inducing fear in others, Modi had added.
Lashing out at the so-called vigilante groups, Modi also requested the state governments to rein in such groups by maintaining a dossier and keeping an eye on their activities. The Prime Minister claimed that more often than not, they will turn out to be anti-social elements in the garb of gau rakshaks.
The Prime Minister’s comment came in the backdrop of the Una Dalit flogging incidence last month, where four Dalit youths were flogged publicly for allegedly killing a cow. The victims were in the profession of skinning dead cows. Following the incident, the ruling BJP and Modi drew flak from the opposition as the Prime Minister chose to keep mum on the incident for so long.
Congress’s Manish Tewari said that such incidents are happening because the BJP has been tacitly promoting these groups. He said they are ideological followers of the BJP and termed Modi’s statement a “rhetoric”, as reported in CNN News18.
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) August 6, 2016
However, Congress’ Sheila Dixit was much more soft in her attack, terming gau raksha as “our prime responsibility”. She, however, accused the BJP of a double stand stating that the BJP members worship cows but do not protect them, according to The Indian Express.