Restraining cow terrorists

The Supreme Court has come down heavily on the Centre and State Governments for their failure to control those who terrorize the people in the name of the cow. They resort to violence at the slightest provocation and take the law into their own hands and mete out summary ‘justice’ which often means lynching person or persons to death. The identity of these criminals are known – they all belong to what is loosely called ‘the Sangh Parivar’ – but the problem is that no member organization of the Parivar ever owns them up. Individuals may be caught by the police and put on trial (in most cases they are acquitted for lack of evidence) but the origin of the trouble lies in the bodies which ‘ideologically’ motivate the so-called cow vigilantes to kill persons carrying or suspected to be carrying beef or having stored or eaten or suspected to have stored or eaten beef.
The same ‘ideological` motivation drives the protagonists to indulge in violence against rationalists, free-thinkers and all those who do not support Hindutva, as different from the Hindu religion or Hinduism. The result is a climate of growing intolerance in society which may find expression in many different ways. The targets of their attack – private citizens who do not enjoy the direct or indirect patronage of the State – find themselves at the receiving end, facing the danger all alone. In the resulting climate, people get more and more afraid of voicing their opinion which is at variance with that of the powers that be. West Bengal was familiar with such a situation toward the end of the CPM rule. Now the whole of India is facing this situation though now the threat is coming from a different source. But the net result is the progressive shrinking of the democratic space.
The apex court has directed the States or Union Territories to appoint dedicated police officers not below the rank of Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSP) to stop the violence of the gau-rakshaks or the self-styled cow vigilantes. The officers may well be appointed but their ability to prevent this type of violence will depend to a great extent on the propensity and political colour of the Government of the State or UT they are serving. In West Bengal under CPM rule the police were usually unwilling to take FIRs against the ruling party or its local satraps. Even today the police are not inclined to accept FIRS when leaders or workers of the present ruling party are involved. The ruling party has changed but the attitude of the police to the ruling party has not changed. What makes the cow vigilantes and attackers of rationalists is that they are also motivated by an ideology.

Friday, 8 September, 2017