Union Minister Ramdas Athawale lashed out at self-proclaimed gau rakshaks on Friday over recent incidents involving lynchings across the country on suspicion of beef consumption, saying that everybody has the right to eat beef. He added that gau rakshaks should be severely punished. Talking to media persons, the Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment told news agency ANI, “Beef khaane ka sabko adhikaar hai. Gau raksha ke naam par nar bhakshak banna theek nahi hai (Everybody had the right to eat beef. It is not right to become a beast in the name of cow protection).”
Athawale, who is the founder-leader of the Republican Party of India (RPI), an Ambedkarite party, also called for strict action to be taken violent cow vigilantes in the country. “Aapko police ke paas jaane ka adhikaar hai, kanoon haath mein lene ka adhikaar nahi. Gau rakshakon ko kathor saza milni chahiye (You have the right to approach the police, not to take the law in your hands; Gau rakshaks should be severely punished).”
Athawale’s statement comes in the wake of a spate of mob lynchings across the country on the suspicion of people transporting, selling or consuming beef or cows for slaughter. The incidents have caused a political uproar in the country, with opposition parties such as Congress blaming the ruling BJP to be the prime cause behind violent cow vigilantism in the country.
Athawale has been critical of cow vigilantes since a long time. In May this year, he had attacked cow vigilantes for considering themselves above the law. He had also said that it was unfortunate that Dalits were facing atrocities for skinning carcasses of dead cows, which was how they earned their livelihood. The RPI is a BJP ally.
(with inputs from ANI)