Srinagar: Indian authorities should promptly investigate and prosecute self-appointed “cow protectors” who have committed brutal attacks against Muslims and Dalits over rumours that they sold, bought, or killed cows for beef, Human Rights Watch said on Friday.
The Rights body said that instead of taking prompt legal action against the vigilantes, many linked to extremist Hindu groups affiliated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the police, too often, have filed complaints against the assault victims, their relatives, and associates under laws banning cow slaughter.
“Self-appointed ‘cow protectors’ driven by irresponsible populism are killing people and terrorising minority communities,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director was quoted as saying by the report. “The government should condemn this violence and take prompt action against those responsible for these attacks or face allegations of complicity.”
In one recent case, the report continues, on April 21, 2017, in the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir state, “a mob brutally attacked five members of a nomad cattle-herding family, including a 9-year-old girl, on suspicion that they were taking their cows for slaughter.”
A video posted on social media showed a group of men chanting slogans commonly used by BJP supporters, breaking down the family’s shelter, beating an elderly man with rods and sticks even as women begged for mercy, and finally setting the shelter on fire. Several policemen can be seen in the video while the mob carries out the attack, but they appeared to be outnumbered and stay back when the mob pushes them back. Police have arrested 11 people for the assault, the report added.
The report further said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he was chief minister of Gujarat state and during the 2014 national election campaign, repeatedly called for the protection of cows, raising the specter of a “pink revolution” by the previous government that he claimed had endangered cows and other cattle to export meat. BJP leaders have attempted to portray the majority Hindu population as victims, whipping up fear of Muslim men who they say kidnap, rape, or lure Hindu women into relationships as part of a plot to make India into a Muslim-majority country. In the period leading up to the Uttar Pradesh state elections in 2017, a BJP lawmaker, Yogi Adityanath, the current chief minister, raised fears of a Hindu exodus in western Uttar Pradesh, which has the largest concentration of Muslims in the state.”