Breaking his silence on the recent spate of lynchings carried out by cow vigilante groups, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that killing in the name of the cow is unacceptable. ““Killing people in the name of cow is unacceptable. No one has the right to take law into his/her hands. We belong to a land of non-violence. Violence is not the solution to any problem,” said Modi while speaking at the centenary celebrations of the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad in Gujarat. He added that the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, would never approve of such incidents.
Modi’s remark has come days after 15-year-old Junaid Khan was murdered on a Mathura bound train from Ballabhgarh by a group of people who taunted him about his community’s so-called beef eating habits. Junaid’s murder is one among a large number of such incidents that have taken place in the past since the Modi government came to power, including the lynching of Pehlu Khan, a 55-year-old dairy farmer and the case of 52-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq who was killed by a mob in Dadri on suspicion of eating beef.
PM Modi has remained largely silent on the issue, expect on one instance last year when he called cow vigilante groups to be ‘anti-social’. Interestingly, his comment has come a day after a nation-wide protest was held against the recent cases of lynching.
Modi’s take on cow protection, however, is in stark contrast to statements made by him in the past, particularly during election campaign of 2014 and when he was chief minister of Gujarat. Targeting the Congress government’s plan for a pink revolution, which would involve an increase in meat exports, the then aspiring prime minister had often resorted to the idea of cow protection embedded in Hindu belief structure to criticise his opponents.
Here is a list of statements made by Modi in the past regarding cow protection:
Speaking at an all-party meeting ahead of the Parliament monsoon session, the Prime Minister said, “I have asked states to take strict action against those violating law in name of cow protection. It (cow vigilantism) should not be given political or communal colour; the nation doesn’t benefit from it. There is a widespread belief that cow is like mother but this should not let people take law in their own hands.” After the meeting PM Modi tweeted, “Cow is treated as a mother and it is an emotive issue. But we have to understand that there are laws governing cow protection and breaking it is not an alternative. All political parties should collectively castigate hooliganism in the name of cow protection.
Addressing the second anniversary of his government’s MyGov initiative, PM Modi had stated that the cow vigilante groups were “anti-social elements”. “It makes me angry that people are running shops in the name of cow protection… Some people indulge in anti-social activities at night, and in the day masquerade as cow protectors,” he said. He further asked all state governments to prepare a report on all such cow protector groups and was confident that most among them would be involved in illegal activities.
While campaigning in Nawada, close to Patna PM Modi was reaching out to the majority Yadav voters in the constituency. Hitting out at the Congress government’s plan for a pink revolution, the prime minister had then criticised the central government’s move to give subsidies to those who slaughter animals for the sake of higher export. “Main Dwarka Nagri se aaya hoon aur meri Dwarka nagari ka Yadvon ke saath seedha seedha naata hain. Aur Yadavon ke saath naata hone ke karan mujhe apnapan mehsoos hona bohot swabhavik hain. Main hairaan hoon, ki yadvon, jo gau palan karta hain, jo gau ki seva karta hain woh kin logon ke saath baithe hain. Unke neta, kiske saath milkar ke rajneeti kar rahe hain? Woh log jo Hindustan mein pashuon ki katlen aam karne mein garv mehsoon karte hain. (I am from Dwarka and Dwarka has direct connection with the Yadav tribe. Due to this connection its natural for me to feel at home here. I am surprised that the Yadavs who worship Sri Krishna, who keep cows at livestock and serve the cow, they are with politicians who are in support of those who slaughter animals with pride),” said Modi.
In 2013 while he was was chief minister of Gujarat, he addressed a Jain International Trade Organisation. In his speech he had attacked the Congress government’s meat trade initiative in the following words:
“Dilli mein baithi hui sarkar ka sapna hain ki hum hindustan mein pink revolution karenge, aur pure vishwa mein maas mutton ka export kar business karenge. Is varsh swayam bharat sarkar ne ghoshit kiya hain ki pure vishwa mein beef export mein Hindustan number one hain. Kin cheezon ke liye garv kiya ja raha hain? Aapka kaleja ro raha hain ki nahin mujhe maloom nahi, mera kaleja cheekh cheekh ke pukaar raha hain. Aur aap kaise chup hain, kyu seh rahe hain, main samajh nahi pata hoon. (The Central government aspires to bring pink revolution in India and to export meat and mutton all across the world. This year the government has declared that India has topped all over the world in beef export. Is this what we pride ourselves on? I do not know if you are saddened by this or not, but my heart is crying out loud. How are you silent and why are you tolerating this I do can never understand),” asked Modi.
While addressing an event on occasion of the birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap at Udaipur, Modi referred to the legendary king’s efforts at cow protection. “Maharana Pratap ne gau rakhsha ke liye jeevan khapaya, gau ki raksha ke liye ladaiyan ladi. Aaj kya ho raha hain? Supreme Court ne kaha hain ki Hindustan ke andar gau raksha ka kanoon lana chahiye. Aur dilli ki sarkar vote bank ki rajneeti ke karan gau raksha ka kanoon nahi la rahi hain. (Maharana Pratap dedicated his life to cow protection. He fought wars for cow protection. Look at what is happening today. Supreme Court has said that India should get a law for cow protection. But the central government is not allowing such a law to be brought into force due to vote bank politics).” he said.