In the wake of cow-slaughter: Holy or Folly?


A reverent animal for the Hindus, Cow, has stormed the monsoon session of Rajya Sabha this year. Yet again, the issue in point is, illegality involved in cattle slaughter in India. States like Gujarat, Delhi, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh have banned the slaughter of cow and it’s progeny of all ages, under Article 49 of the Constitution of India. 

This write-up though doesn’t focus on the (highly contentious) illegality involved in such slaughter, but the violent consequences that some sections of the society (mostly the less privileged) have to face under the garb of ‘cow protection’.

Last year, a 50 year old man, Mohammad Akhlaq, was beaten to death and his twenty two-year old son was severely injured in Dadri. There were rumours that the family had stored beef in their fridge. Later, a probe report found out that the meat found was actually mutton. Unfortunately, the same has followed, as the year 2016 till now doesn’t have a single month that is not marked by communal controversies. In July, an unpleasant video did rounds that showed four Dalit youth being beaten and flogged by self-styled gau-rakshak activists, on the account of their skinning a dead cow. Recently, two Muslim women were slapped and kicked, because it was assumed that they were carrying beef, which later turned out to be the beef of a buffalo. 

Statistics have shown that since 2010, incidents against minorities are on a rise, where 85% of the cases registered were pending trial, and many were not even reported. On a flip side, around four to five road accident cases are received every night in Delhi caused due to stray animals, including the cattle.

If one looks at the pattern, it is not hard to decipher that these incidents don’t necessarily stem from the ‘love for animal’ but a deep-rooted mythology and a need of supremacy. Caste discrimination has plagued the nation since the beginning of time, but one would normally hope for it being mellowed down in the current age. However, bigotry is still alive, prevalent and kicking; although its definition has evolved from ‘social divide’ to ‘social disturbance.’ When spotlight is on inclusive growth, such incidents drag the economy back to its ‘underdeveloped’ tag. 

Cow rakshak justify their action by saying, “Cow is our holy mother. Whatever we do to protect its sanctity is holy as well.” It is difficult to understand, what is so holy in flogging, beating, stripping and then parading such ‘criminals’? Will not building a shed for deserted cattle, and minimizing human loss as a result, be a better way to protect livestock and humanity? 
Government, the epicentre of tumult right now, needs to understand that the ‘bad-followed-by-worse’ ideology makes for the worst democratic climate. An unambiguous policy must be adopted, that keeps an eye on such illegal tactics deployed by cow vigilante. Cow, holy or not; it’s slaughter, illegal or not; should not be used as an excuse to intimidate the minorities.

In hindsight, there are numerous unanswered questions. Why didn’t these cow protectors go to the police station or courts for their grievance? Why did they feel the need to take the law in their hands? What is the power behind them that justifies their ‘riling up’? Had the situation been different if cow skinners were from a higher caste? Can this casteist-divide be used as a blinder to deprive people their dignity of life? Can ‘the holy’ defend ‘the unholy’? Well, it obviously can! But, should it?

About The Author

Sakshi Awasthy

Sakshi Awasthy (MCM DAV 36)

A social recluse. Soldier of fiction. Soliloquist. Either silent or sarcastic. Possesses no interesting version of ESP, but likes to think she has the same glasses as Harry Hart. 


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