Cow vigilantism threatens the body and soul of India

Human life is sacred and the holiness of the Cow mustn't supersede it

Written by Ujjal Dosanjh | New Delhi | Updated: April 16, 2017 9:55 pm


Cow vigilantism, Gau rakshaks, Cow vigilantes, Cow protection, India cow vigilantism, India cow protectors, Mahatma Gandhi, India news, Indian express As a euphemism, Cow vigilantism conceals more than it reveals. (Image for representational purposes)

Today, “Cow vigilantism” is commonly used in India to describe the current lawlessness happening under the rubric of Cow protection. The word “vigilant” means keeping lookout for possible difficulties or danger. The term “vigilante” refers to a self-appointed person or a group of persons that undertakes to enforce the law without any legal authority. It also includes persons who take the law into their own hands to avenge what they may perceive to be crime. No definition of “vigilante” includes what is happening in India: Murder and violence of men by other men in illegally and extra-judicially enforcing religious beliefs.

As a euphemism, Cow vigilantism conceals more than it reveals. It bestows a measure of social, moral and legal legitimacy to the so-called Cow protectors. More tragically, and to a large degree, it hides their criminality: It conceals the truth of men killing other men in the name of the Cow. Cow vigilantism as an expression has sadly become a convenient cloak for violence, brutality, murder and mayhem in the name of the Cow. The convenient robe of words “Cow vigilantism” and “Cow vigilantes” deceptively and quite ironically elevates murderers of men to the pedestal of protectors of Cows. Even the RSS chief recently acknowledged that the illegal and violent acts of the ‘vigilantes’ in the name of the Cow actually defile her. The truth is that in this immense profaning of the sacred underway in the violence in India, India is rendered a human abattoir – a slaughterhouse of men and women to save Cows from slaughter.

Cows are sacred to many; and one respects that. But violence by humans upon humans – regardless of the reason being sacred or profane – is inhumane; in any civilised society that much is common ground – at the very least it should be – among the killers and the killed in the Cow’s name. If this much can’t be presumed in a civil society, the society is uncivil and the continuing slaughter in the name of the Cow then is a much larger tragedy than previously feared.

In ancient India, often, and sometimes in modern India too, we have killed human beings of the so-called lower castes at the altar of the perceived to be angry and demonic ‘Gods’. In the modern and democratic India, when did we decide we shall continue to believe that protection of the sacred demands and deserves the brutalisation and murder of the alleged human desecrators and defilers? In order to ‘please’ the mighty gods – seen or unseen, perceived or unperceived, felt or unfelt, existent or nonexistent – the midget minds wreak havoc on our bodies and souls and the body and soul of India; causing wounds and scars – drenched in blood – the depth, despair and lethality of which they know not.

Yet we continue, existing, merely being. We dare not awake lest we rise to the human truth within us: That human life is sacred; that the holiness of the Cow mustn’t supersede the sanctity of human life. There once was a Mahatma in our country. We called him Bapu. We used to worship him. He worshipped the Cow and the man but had declared his refusal to kill man to protect the Cow. The ideological ancestors of the current killers of men in the name of the Cow silenced his body with bullets; but his thunderous message survives and even reverberates today – but not in the hearts and minds of the killers numbed by their own inhumanity.

In the ongoing insanity and horrific drama of the killings in the name of the Cow, someone has petitioned the Supreme Court of India to declare the killings of Dalits and other minorities to be a crime of “extortion”. Killing or assaulting men and women is already illegal. One would have thought there would have been no need for anyone to petition a court. But petition someone did because the governments of the day, blinded and stymied by their own political calculations, religious beliefs, biases and prejudices refuse to govern for all the citizens of the states and the country. The courts shouldn’t have to ask governments to protect people’s lives or to enforce the law; those are the fundamental moral and legal obligations all democratically elected governments owe to the people they govern; but not in India, sadly, eh!

“In killing men and women in the Cow’s name, the killers desecrate the Cow,” is what Bapu the Mahatma would have said. Violence in the name of the sacred makes the perpetrator profane. The murderers of Akhlaq and Alwar are indelible and inhumane blemishes splattered across the holy canvas of India struggling to free itself from the clutches of the frenzied violence in the name of religion.

Once before, during the Independence movement, India had allowed itself to be overtaken by the zealotry and politics of religion. The deep, deadly and divisive wounds of such zealotry and politics tormented and forever wounded the soul of the country ending in the deathly debacle of partition of 1947.

Once again, the slaughter of men in the name of Cows threatens to slash and slice the soul of India. In the matters Sacred or Profane, India can no longer afford to be a mute spectator to the brutal assassination of its multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-racial soul. It must speak out, speak up and, for all to see, stand up for its soul. The views expressed by the author are personal. Dosanjh is former Premier of British Columbia, and former Canadian Minister of Health. He tweets @ujjaldosanjh

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  1. M
    Maheswar Deka
    Jul 16, 2017 at 5:36 pm
    India secularism is not to be crushed by the cow vigilantes and if anyone ventures to attack secularism of India, then he/she should be punished.
    1. N
      Jun 28, 2017 at 11:33 am
      Education is just fine, population is the problem, majority of the people in india are in poverty and they multiply fast (child marriage another big boost to population among the poor) , most of the educated leave the country or goes to metro cities, if government don't try to take care of the poor and if the population is not controlled, this country will be stuck in the stone age
      1. N
        Jun 28, 2017 at 11:27 am
        Oh common, why even use the word vigilantes, this is just another form of terrorism "hiding" in some religious propoganda, I dare these so called vigilanties to attempt this in Kerala
        1. K
          May 29, 2017 at 7:55 pm
          If we can see beyond politics, there are real issues of cruelty. There have been several studies that have shown that the treatment given to the intelligent bovine animals even in advanced countries like USA is utterly shocking. They are treated like machines which they are not. The calves are separated soon after they are born. How cow and the calf long for each other. Apparently they are known to cry. Relentless births with a gap of a few months till they exhausted in about 4 to 5 years. Thereafter slaughter. Stories of cows who do not want to die and try to escape are legion. The tragedy is that they are close to humans in intelligence. You can go through s: www.peta /issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/cows/ or any on their behaviour. I am not clear about what the law should be. But we should not gloat over kil and eating them. We should not exhibit barbarism even while we need to eat them. Eating for the sake of eating is never done among animals
          1. H
            Harjit Singh Chitkara
            May 13, 2017 at 3:01 pm
            When I see cow vigilantes running after or beating some one with rods, I am reminded of some highway robbers out to extort/loot money . The only difference is that these vigilantes have donned the shirts in the name of Holy cow. I see tens of cows roaming on the heap of garbage in search of food and can be seen eating polythene bags. No cow vigilantes has the time to take care of them who have been left to die.Any body interested in seeing this, I have a photograph clicked with me and ready to take them to site. So please in the name of God, stop this kil of human being in the name of cow.
            1. P
              P Banerjee
              Apr 25, 2017 at 2:21 pm
              The problem with India is education, rather the lack of it. A nation so steeped in ignorance can have only one future and that is putrefaction. I returned to India in 2014 when the elections were held. I saw the jingoism, the zealotary, the immaturity of people, the utter lack of education in common people. I was disma . I concluded that India cannot have a bright future and I should leave this country. People are fatalist, uneducated, unaware and conceited. Ignorance breeds hatred and hatred breeds violence. The number of educated Indians is handful. Even the universities are churning out klutz en m e. Those who value education generally leave that country. The politics in india is a vulgar circus of lowbrow people. India is not a free country. It is neck-deep in the morrases of ignorance and backwardness. It is a medival country. Unless people understand the value of education, the land of uneducated will decompose like the carc of the dead cow it worships.
              1. H
                Apr 17, 2017 at 1:05 pm
                Over act is not good for a democratic country. We must do our action in our limits and as per law.
                1. R
                  Raj Shekhar
                  Apr 15, 2017 at 12:58 am
                  Cont'd.. such supers ious mindsets he rightly feared would destroy nation's intellects. Coming out against rigid false Hindu mindset was a difficult decision, but the only best one Savarkar ever made. Here are few p ages from his writings: ....."When you worship the cow, you lower the standing of mankind. ..God is the highest, then comes man, and below man is the animal kingdom. The cow is an animal which has not even as much intelligence as the most stupid human. To consider the cow divine, and thus superior to man, is an insult to man. ...The cow eats at one end and expels and dung at the other end. When it is tired it lies down in its own filth. Then it uses its tail (which we call beautiful) to spread this filth all over its body. How can a creature which does not understand cleanliness be considered divine?
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