Rising protests and movements against lynching of innocent people in the name of cow protection

Ever since the BJP has come to power at the Centre, communal divide in the society and communal violence including incidents of lynching in broad daylight have been growing speedily. Lynching is a most condemned and hated term to the civilized people of the whole world. USA has been notorious for lynching of black Americans by a small group of racist fanatic whites who are despised by the majority of the democratic-minded US citizens. Now that very condemned and hated practice of lynching has virtually become a daily affair in our country bringing a bad name to our nation. The irony of the whole thing is that the members of the arch Hindu communal Sangh Parivar (who have been indulging in such inhuman acts of lynching in the name of cow protection or protection of Hindutva) often calling the critics of their most communal and undemocratic activities anti-nationals and unpatriotic, are the persons actually tarnishing the image of the country by perpetuating lynching in the name of cow protection. Are these members of Sangh Parivar of RSS-BJP-VHP—Bajrang Dal who are tarnishing the image of our country in the eyes of the whole world fit to be called civilized?

Incidents of lynching and attack are happening regularly
Even though some stray incidents of lynching had taken place earlier also, these have become a regular feature, fast spreading all over the country, particularly after Mohammad Akhlaq, a 60 year old citizen from Dadri in Uttar Pradesh, was beaten to death on 28 September, 2015 by a group of frenzied Hindu fanatics who accused him of consuming and possessing beef although everyone has got the right to take any kind of food he or she likes. Moreover, in the instant case, the very allegation of beef consumption was also proved to be a cooked up one as the veterinary department reports later revealed that he had in fact possessed mutton, not beef. Since then, there has been a spurt of similar lynching and public humiliation on the pretext of cow protection, dishonouring Hindutva and so forth. On 9 October 2015, a truck was attacked with petrol bombs by alleged Hindu extremists after rumours of it carrying dead cows in Udhampur emerged. Zahid Ahmad, the truck driver succumbed to his injuries 10 days later, while another man suffered serious burn injuries. Just 10 days after the Udhampur attack, Independent MLA Engineer Rashid was attacked by activists belonging to the Hindu Sena. Some activists shouting slogans ”gow mata ka apman, nahi sahega Hindustan (India will not tolerate any disrespect to cow)” had pounced on him and painted him with black colour, engine oil and blue ink after he finished a press conference condemning the 9 October attack. Just around the same time as the Udhampur killing, a 20-year-old truck driver from Saharanpur was lynched in Himachal Pradesh allegedly for cow smuggling. In January 2016, several passengers, including a Muslim couple, were attacked by a cow protection group at Khirkiya railway station in the Harda district of Madhya Pradesh over allegations that they were carrying beef. Similar to the incident in Dadri, the pieces of meat found in their possession were found to be buffalo meat. In March 2016, two Muslim cattle traders while heading to an animal fair were lynched and hanged by a cow vigilant group in Jharkhand’s Latehar district. In the same month, 32-year-old Mazlum Ansari and a 15-year-old youngster, Imteyaz Khan, were brutally thrashed by a local ‘gau rakshak’ group in Chatra district of UP on the charge of smuggling cattle. Later, it was revealed that they were actually on the way to sell eight oxen they owned at a cattle market in the state. Mustain Abbas, a 27-year-old father of four, who was travelling back home after buying bulls from Haryana was allegedly fired upon by Gau Raksha Dal members on 5 April 2016. On 17 June, 2016, a 30-40 member odd group of Bajrang Dal brutally attacked a dalit family in Koppa, Karnataka, for allegedly possessing beef. On 11 July 2016, a few dalit youths who were skinning a dead cow brought from Bediya village were beaten up and then paraded naked by the members of the self-styled Gau Raksha Dal outside Mota Samadhiyala village near Guna in Madhya Pradesh. On 26 July, 2016, two Muslim women were beaten up at Mandsaur railway station in MP by the members of the Bajrang Dal, on the suspicion of carrying beef. In August 2016, two dalit men were brutally attacked by a group of 100 cow vigilantes while skinning a dead cow. In August 2016, in Mewat, Haryana, a woman and her 14-year-old minor cousin were gang-raped and two of their relatives murdered by insane Hindutva groups after being accused of eating beef. On 1 April, 2017, Pehlu Khan and at least four others were grievously injured when a mob of so called cow protectors attacked nearly 15 persons while they were transporting cows in vehicles on the Behror highway in Alwar district in Rajasthan. Pehlu Khan later succumbed to his injuries. Five people of a family, including a 9-year-old girl, were injured in an attack by self-styled cow vigilantes in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir on 21 April, 2017. One of the children of those attacked, a 10-year-old, is still missing. A recent diabolic incident of lynching has been that of 15-year-old Junaid Khan who was stabbed to death in Ballabhgarh, Haryana by a mob that mocked his skull cap and called him a beef eater after an argument over train seats escalated inside a compartment of EMU train. Two of his brothers were injured in the incident. Though all such ghastly incidents are worth to be brought to the fore, we have narrated only some of the striking and rudely shocking ones since space in our organ would fall far short if the entire list of lynching and attacks on the Muslims and dalit people by self-styled cow vigilant groups propped up and backed by the Sangh Parivar is to be published. As many of 97% of these attacks were reported after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came to power in May 2014, and about half the cow-related violence was from states governed by the BJP, revealed an analysis of violence recorded until June 25, 2017. (Source: — First Post 03-06-17, India Today-26-06-17 and Hindustan Times 28-06-17)

A fear of lynching and persecution has gripped the society
And now the menace of lynching has taken such alarming a proportion and assumed such brutal a nature that many parents fear to send their children outside home. “I cannot send my sons back to the place where my Junaid was killed. I fear for their lives. They are all I have now,” said Junaid’s mother Saira. Majib, Pehlu Khan’s relative, said a feeling of uncertainty and fear has so enveloped their village in Behror, Rajasthan, that people have stopped visiting each other’s houses fearing violence. (The Hindu—29-06-17) Admitting that the recent incidents of violence against the minorities, particularly the lynching of Junaid in a train had left him frightened, Nazmul Hassan, a 42 year old engineer from Aligarh, while caught by the police hiding himself in a burqa said that as he had to go to Delhi to visit an ailing cousin, he was scared to travel alone. Hence, he decided to wear a burqa to conceal his male identity. Afterwards, the police confirmed that his fear was genuine as Hasan had a horrific experience of being attacked and abused in the previous week for being a Muslim. (Times of India—06-07-17) 21 year old Nadeem Ansari who had come from Palamu village to take part in the funeral of Alimuddin Ansari of Manua village of Jharkhand and was brutally lynched by 10 members of a cow vigilant group on the suspicion of transporting beef, said in disgust, “They should declare a Hindutva state and kick us out. It would be better than killing us off like this one by one”. (Scroll.in 01-07-17) All these cases are horrifying. And all of them reveal definite patterns.

Democratic conscience is not dormant
As the ever increasing incidents of lynching have created fear among the Muslims and a large section of dalits who are Hindus, it has at the same time shaken the conscience of the right-thinking democratic minded people of the entire country. Thousands and thousands of people have joined the surging movement under the banner “NOT IN MY NAME” against the brutal killings and attacks on innocent people in the name of cow protection. This “NOT IN MY NAME” protest that started with a private Facebook post by documentary filmmaker Saba Dewan on 28 June evening, when thousands of citizens gathered at Jantar Mantar in the capital city of Delhi spontaneously spread to 19 cities in the country—from Kolkata and Patna in the east to Mumbai and Pune in the west, from the towns of Haryana in the north to Bangalore and Chennai in the south. Leading film personalities like Shabana Azmi and Girish Karnard, eminent historians like Ramchandra Guha and noted social activists like Teesta Sitalavad had joined the protest. And much more. The movement transcended the boundary of our country and spread in different parts of the world. Cities of London, Boston and Toronto witnessed surge of the movement in full swing. This shows how much the Hindutva fanatics and the pseudo-patriots have maligned the name of the country throughout the world.
A unique form of protest had taken place earlier in Aizal, Mizoram. When Rajnath Singh, Union Home Minister and a prominent BJP leader, went to Aizawl to attend a security review meeting on 12 June, 2017, some 2,000 members of a social media group including hundreds of ladies congregated at the Vanapa Hall in Mizoram’s capital Aizawl, and feasted on beef as a mark of protest. “By organising the festival, we wanted to send a message to the BJP-RSS that Mizos won’t be a party to the Centre’s plan to make India a beef-free country”, said one of the organizers. In Christian-majority Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram, where beef is a staple and integral part of the cuisine, the tribal people have thus made it very clear that they would not accept the cattle slaughter rules. (Indian Express-12-06-2017)

Doublespeak of the ministers and ruling party leaders
After remaining silent for long, some central ministers including the Prime Minister, have now opened their mouth in the face of the growing movement and have been talking of taking strict action against those who indulge in violence in the name of cow vigilantism. But it is apparent that this hollow warning for playing to the gallery is akin to the saying, “To run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.” One point is common in all the utterances the BJP ministers and leaders making, being forced by the situation. That is, killing of men in the name of cow protection is not acceptable. If one critically analyses their statements, it would be clear that they do not oppose protection of cows but per force oppose killing of men. During the entire period when such incidents of lynching were taking place, they had covertly encouraged such crimes. But the point is that those who are indulging in violence and lynching and those who are now talking of punishing them are both supporters of cow protection. The very slogan of cow protection is preposterous and is itself rabidly communal in character because the underlying implication is banning of beef eating. So, any act initiated in the name of protection of cows, whether violent or peaceful, is equally condemnable. Any espousal in favour of cow vigilantism is purported to create Hindu fanatic sentiment against cow slaughter itself. And obviously, that is tantamount to opposing consumption of beef. Beef eating, it needs to be added, is not the habit of the Muslims alone. The Christians also eat beef. Even many Hindus in various parts of the country eat beef. Markandey Katju, former chairman of Press Council of India and retired Justice said, “I eat beef and would continue to do so.” (Times of India, 03-10-15) Rishi Kapoor, noted film personality, had also said, “I am a beef eating Hindu. Does that mean I am less God fearing than a non-eater?” (Hindustan Times 06-02-17) In a democratic country, no one far less the government can dictate who would take what in his or her diet. It is the choice of an individual. There cannot be two opinions on this. Dictates on diet is an attack on democracy.

Blindness leads to fanaticism
But even that freedom is also infringed upon. Blindness is fast developing in our country because of the fanatic communal propaganda of the arch Hindu communal Sangh Parivar on the one hand and long absence of mighty democratic movement on the other hand. This is creating a dangerous situation. Because, blindness triggers fanaticism, blunts thinking, kills rational bent of mind and in course of that, lays the rock-bottom foundation of fascism. Fascism is the greatest enemy of mankind. This dangerous portend which looms large over the country can be thwarted only by developing powerful democratic movements as well as inspiring and involving the masses in intense ideological discussions and political debates by developing scientific approach and logical bent of mind in social thinking. It shall never be forgotten that fascism is the last resort of dying capitalism today to prolong its ruthlessly oppressive class rule. This is why the ruling capitalist class, its dependable political parties and the governments are engaged in fostering blindness and fanaticism among the masses through various means. Cow vigilantism is accelerating the process.

Surge of powerful left-democratic movement only can thwart the menace
It is a sad commentary on the better known left and democratic parties of the country that they have not come forward to develop any effective protest movement against this growing menace in the country as yet. Democratic mass movement against the growing all-out crisis bred by ruling capitalism in every sphere of life of the working class and other sections of the exploited masses, an imperative need of the hour, cannot grow without fighting this most reactionary fascistic trend and without uniting and involving all the sections of toiling oppressed people, irrespective of caste, religion, community or nationality in this movement. It is late no doubt. But for developing this most urgent and indispensable movement, it is not too late. We will have to close up our ranks and mobilize vast masses of the toiling people and build up a powerful and protracted movement without any delay.

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