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Cow Protection as Fundamental Right of Hindus? Sorry HC! Maybe, Not a Great Call

Cow vigilantes already think that they are protecting the rights of Hindus by indulging in violence against others.

Updated
Opinion
2 min read

REPORTER & VIDEO PRODUCER: Mekhala Saran

SENIOR EDITOR: Shelly Walia

VIDEO EDITOR: Sandeep Suman
CAMERAPERSON: Shiv Kumar Maurya

"Samast paristhityon ko dhyan mein rakhne ki avashyakta hai ki gaaye ko ek rashtriya pashu ghoshit kiya jaye our gau suraksha ko hinduon ke maulik adhikaar mein rakha jaye. (Keeping in mind the circumstances, the cow must be declared the national animal, and protection of cows must be a fundamental right of Hindus.)"

These are the words of Allahabad High Court's Justice Shekhar Kumar Yadav, spoken while denying bail to a man accused of cow slaughter.

What are Fundamental Rights?

Fundamental rights in India are the rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution.

These are the most important civil liberties and rights which set us apart from dictatorships and authoritarian regimes. They are guaranteed to all, irrespective of caste, religion, creed, sex, place of birth etc – some even apply to non-citizens.

In case of a violation of fundamental rights, you can directly approach the Supreme Court.

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The Constitution of India guarantees six broad categories of fundamental rights:

  • The right to equality, including the right against discrimination

  • The right to freedom, including freedom of speech and the right to personal liberty

  • The right against exploitation

  • The right to freedom of religion

  • Cultural and educational rights

  • Right to constitutional remedies

It is a different matter that with increasing instances of hate crimes, mob lynchings, prolonged incarceration of political prisoners, evident bias in police probe, discrimination against women, discrimination against Dalits, and other such cases, one may question the extent to which our existing fundamental rights are even being enforced.

But hey, maybe this new fundamental right, if implemented, will get better enforcement than the ones we already have!

But, Wait!

Even as some, like Justice Yadav, may want to arm Hindus with the 'right' to protect cows, here's what we should also remember:

There have been countless cases of mob lynching in the name of cow protection. Cow vigilantes have time and again attacked and killed people – mostly belonging to the Muslim and Dalit community – under the mere suspicion of cow slaughter, cattle trade or beef consumption.

Human Rights Watch, in a 2017 report, urged Indian authorities to 'promptly investigate and prosecute self-appointed "cow protectors" who have committed brutal attacks against Muslims and Dalits over rumors that they sold, bought, or killed cows for beef.'

The cow vigilantes, the perpetrators of these attacks, already believe that they are protecting the rights of Hindus by indulging in such violence.

Making cow protection for Hindus a fundamental right, guaranteed by the constitution – or even suggesting the same – can go a scarily long way in emboldening this violent form of vigilantism.

(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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