“Koi mai ka lal pradesh me gau hatya nahi kar sakta (No one can dare slaughter a cow in Madhya Pradesh).” When CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the words last week at a satsang at Jai Guru Dev Ashram near Ujjain, he was voicing a belief held by thousands of followers who had flocked to the ashram.
Over past two years, many of them have been writing slogans seeking death penalty for cow slaughter on walls of government and private properties. The slogans, written in red ochre using burnt vehicle oil, also seek national animal status for cow. They are visible across the state.
The ashram is now run by Sant Umakant Mahajaj, who claims he is the spiritual heir of Baba Jai Guru Dev, who died three years ago. After taking over, Umakant Maharaj, while continuing to propagate vegetarianism and abstention from liquor, began focusing on the campaign against cow slaughter. He is against dharnas or violence but believes only in “vaicharik kranti (ideological revolution).’’
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Followers are persuaded to not only write slogans in their respective areas but also petition the PM and CMs of respective states by mailing printed appeals.
Many slogans mention Narendra Modi. Followers say his taking over as the PM has given the campaign momentum and hope.
“We don’t pay followers for writing the slogans. There’s no uniformity in size or font because the followers do it on their own. We want to ensure that every political leader comes across the slogans,’’ said ashram spokesman Sarjit Singh. He claimed that the drive played a role in making some state governments pass stricter anti-cow slaughter legislations. He added: “Followers don’t force when private property owners object to writing slogans, but that happens rarely.
The petitions to the PM and CMs are printed by Baba Jaigurudev Dharma Vikas Sanstha, Ujjain. When a Delhi-based ashram follower Ramesh Rai sought to know from the PMO the fate of the petitions through RTI, he got “a vague reply.’’ Rai was told that “mass representations (50 sacks) received from followers of Baba Jaigurudev Dharam Vikas Sansthan” has been sent to Secretary to Environment and Forest department and the Animal Husbandry department for appropriate action. “The PMO avoided giving a clear reply about what the government proposes to do with the petitions,” he said.