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A Bit Too Late, But Thank You PM Modi for Calling a Spade a Spade

Your criticism of gau rakshaks and the demand that state agencies act against them has given us hope.

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4 min read
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Photo: Reuters)

Der aaye, durust aaye.

Finally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has broken his silence on cow vigilantes.

The PM has spoken out against Hindu radical groups carrying out violent attacks on people suspected of slaughtering cows, targeting Muslims, and lately, low-caste Dalits, in what clearly seem to be coordinated and well planned assaults.

But the larger question is: Is the rebuke coming from the PM too late, and too little?

Ironically, on the same day that PM Modi, at a town hall meeting in New Delhi, said state agencies need to act against the self-styled activists who are actually criminal elements, Bajrang Dal activists reportedly sought to justify such acts, saying they would go to any extent to protect the holy cow, which is like a mother to them, and cited Dadri lynching as an example of such backlash.

And to top it off, a top VHP leader, according to news reports, said that when the law and the constitution are not protected by those in power and there is laxity, “such incidents will happen”.

Policemen remove stones put by members of Dalit community to block traffic during their protests in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. (Photo: PTI)
Policemen remove stones put by members of Dalit community to block traffic during their protests in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. (Photo: PTI)
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It’s precisely since PM Modi has spoken out so late, while the communal cauldron has been burning for quite some time now, that such forces have been emboldened to hold no fear in taking the law into their hands, while those tasked with upholding the law of the land have kept looking the other way.

Why so late Mr Prime Minister? Your intervention – even a forceful argument of the kind you have let out now – would have helped assure the citizens, many of whom have been reeling under fear of such mobs for months now, that you empathize with their trauma, and the troublemakers would’ve got the message.  

You have rightly pointed out, Mr Prime Minister, that demanding answers from a PM for everything is not good governance.

True indeed. We cannot hold the PM accountable for anything and everything that happens under the sun, across the length and breadth of the country. And, of course, there is a need to make our democracy more participatory. But the problem, here, is of the nuance. It’s about sending – or not sending at all – the right signals.

Immediately after the Dadri lynching incident, when the focus should have been on the ghastly murder and bringing the culprits to book, the cops were seen more prompt in probing what the victim had consumed, beef or mutton. That such an approach sends shivers down the spines of so many citizens, one can easily confirm.

A man was killed in Dadri, UP, for allegedly consuming beef. Photo: (Reuters)
A man was killed in Dadri, UP, for allegedly consuming beef. Photo: (Reuters)
Dadri was the beginning. What followed was a spate of incidents that unnerved us into pondering, where exactly was the arm of the law? Is “mobocracy” taking over? The nation has watched in horror, recently, the merciless flogging of some Dalits by cow vigilantes, while policemen looked on.  

We have also seen how such groups have sprouted all around, systematically and ruthlessly giving the law of the land a complete go-by.

Through all of this, these groups seem to have been a law unto themselves. Free of any noticeable intervention, their diktat seems to have been running unhindered.

But now that you have spoken and asked state agencies to act against these “self-styled activists, who are actually criminal elements,” there is a renewed hope all around, Mr Modi.

We believe the law enforcement agencies will take cues.

We want to believe every word of yours when you say, “I get so angry at some people who have opened shops in the name of Gau Raksha. They are into anti-social activities at night but wear the garb of cow protectors during the day.”

We are further emboldened when you say, “I request state governments to prepare a dossier of such self-styled cow protectors. Seventy to 80 per cent of them will turn out to be anti-social elements who do this to mask their bad deeds.”

Several young Dalit youths were flogged in Una, Gujarat for allegedly skinning a cow alive. (Photo:<b> The Quint)</b>
Several young Dalit youths were flogged in Una, Gujarat for allegedly skinning a cow alive. (Photo: The Quint)
That’s the whole point. Not just these so-called gau rakshaks. Many esteemed members of your party, including some holding high offices, have been reported to be repeatedly uttering musings that border on “anti-social” (a very mild word here considering the kind of expletives they’ve been dishing out).

Very recently, one such esteemed member, from Bihar, was heard cajoling his community members – we do not know the authenticity of the tape but he has not denied its veracity thus far – into embracing violence, arguing they were not manly enough.

It is this group, Mr PM, that needs your undiluted attention now.

You have rightly lashed out at those “setting up shops in the name of cow protection.” We wait with bated breath for these shops to be demolished.

A big thank you Mr PM, for calling a spade a spade.

( Mehre Alam is a Doha-based Indian journalist and a former deputy editor of The Times of Oman. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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