You raised the issue of cow vigilantism in Lok Sabha today. What are your concerns?
Cow vigilantism is generating social unrest across the country…. A Hindu farmer — who is the prime keeper of bovine species such as cow, bullocks and, many a times, bulls — when faced with dire poverty is incapable of supporting non-milching cows and non-working bullocks. It’s the poor Hindu (farmers) who sell animals, (and) beef is consumed not just by (people from) religious minority groups but also by Dalit and tribal (people). A debate on the subject in Parliament…is essential to bring about social harmony.
Do you see any political angle to the increasing number of incidents of assault on Dalits and those involving cow vigilante groups?
It may not have started as a political issue but somehow the message has gone to fringe disruptive elements that it’s a free-for-all political scenario now. This wrong message is encouraging them.
Could the upcoming elections, especially those in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, be a reason?
The current repeated incidents clearly have (a) political undertone. Creating groups and dividing society have been a favourite political tool of the national parties.
You spoke about the economic impact of issues like beef ban and cow vigilante movement.
All social issues eventually have an economic fallout. Cow vigilantism will also have an economic angle to it. If not immediately, then in a short while we will start seeing it. I would even say it will have an ecological impact.
Some Opposition parties wanted the Prime Minister to speak on the issue. What do you feel?
I believe leaders of all parties should spell out their thoughts in public. That includes the Prime Minister.