Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday rapped cow vigilante groups or ‘gau rakshaks’ for their violent acts aimed at terrorising people in the name of cow protection. Speaking at a townhall event organised to celebrate two years of the government’s citizen engagement platform MyGov and the launch of PMOApp at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, PM Modi said that most of the people involved in such activities were anti-social and were running their shops in the name of cow protection.
Prime Minister’s comments came after a long interval since the first big incident of cow vigilantism shocked the nation last year when Mohammad Akhlaq of Dadri, Uttar Pradesh was beaten to death by an angry mob over rumours that he had consumed beef. Ever since that incident, there have been reports of similar instances coming from different parts of the country, creating tension among the masses especially those involved in the business of cattle trading.
While PM Modi was the target of opposition parties for long because of his keeping ‘mum’ on incidents of cow vigilantism, his comments on Saturday solicited a mixed response from them. Also, the ‘harsh criticism’ of gau rakshaks by the PM comes after his party found itself in a tight spot at his home turf Gujarat following the massive protests by Dalit community after videos of Dalit youth being assaulted by cow protection groups went viral on the Internet.
Here are some of the responses to his comments:
Sitaram Yechury (CPM)
CPM leader Sitaram Yechury took to Facebook hours after PM Modi’s comments and iterated that ‘PM was remaining silent on the issue of commitment to uphold the rule of law’.
“He has said he is “angry” at Gau-Rakshaks (Cow Vigilantes) but not said what action is being contemplated by the government at the Centre or BJP govts in states,” Yechury said in the post. He also added that the PM made no such comment which would indicate restraint on BJP leaders who continue to make vitriolic statements against certain communities when it comes to gau raksha.
Sheila Dikshit (Congress)
Former chief minister of Delhi and Congress party’s Chief Ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh, Sheila Dikshit too lashed out at PM Modi and BJP a day after he made the statement. Dikshit said that the BJP members worship cows but do not protect them.
Dikshit, however, supported the idea of gau raksha and said that it was ‘our’ prime responsibility.
Pawan Verma (JD(U))
The Janta Dal (United), commenting on PM Modi’s statement, said that it was made only with keeping the political situation or gain in mind.
“He is doing or attempting to do some damage control because Dalit anger and outrage and that of minorities have now become pan-Indian in scale. So this is the half-hearted attempt much too late to do damage control with political electoral considerations in mind,” JD(U) leader Pawan Verma told news agency ANI.
Appreciating PM Modi’s townhall initiative, his party said that the PM was working more as a social reformer by introducing major innovations in the governance.
“He said functioning as a social reformer is the spirit behind Prime Minister’s Modi’s success with regard to programmes like ‘Make in India’, ‘Swachch Bharat’, ‘Digital India’, ‘Skill India’,” BJP leader GVL Narsimha Rao said.