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Hindutva group tries to justify cow protection movement

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Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) general secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi today said the cow protection movement is not directed against Muslims and Christians and that it is being given a communal colour “unnecessarily”.

He said demands related to “caste, region and language cannot bring about a change in society but Hindutva can”. The RSS attempts to defend the cow protection movement which is considered the primary and most significant of all pillars of the Hindutva movement.

The first riots broke out between Hindus and Muslims in Mau in the Azamgarh district and took the government 3 days to regain control.

“Confusion is being created with regard to the cow protection movement. It is not directed against Muslims and Christians. It is linked to the pride of the nation. A communal colour is being given to it unnecessarily,” Joshi said here. “We need to make the people aware about those who spread canards about cow protection and fan tension by giving a communal colour to such issues,” he said.

Joshi also stressed the need to bring about a change in the mindset to check the menace of female infanticide, untouchability, dowry, pollution, etc. “Enacting laws is not a solution to such problems,” he said. However the RSS leader’s words come in stark contrast to the acts conducted by Hindutva cow vigilantes.

Read more: Muslims joining BJP: A marriage of convenience?

With the rise of the Hindutva fundamentalist BJP to power in 2014, Hindutva militants have become prominent in most parts of India. The most evident of these militants have been the Gau Rakshaks who have started to haunt the highways of India. Using the protection of the law, these Gau Rakshaks have initiated brutal attacks against civilians (mostly Muslims).

“Enacting laws is not a solution to such problems,” he said. However the RSS leader’s words come in stark contrast to the acts conducted by Hindutva cow vigilantes.

According to a report, 86% killed in cow-related violence since 2010 are Muslim. 97% of the attacks have happened after the Modi-led BJP government came to power. As many as 124 people were also injured in the cow related attacks and more than half (52%) of these attacks were based on rumours. Muslims were the target of 51% of violence centered on bovine issues over nearly eight years (2010 to 2017) and comprised of 86% of 28 Indians killed in 63 incidents, according to an IndiaSpend content analysis of the English media.

In the first six months of 2017, 20 cow-terror attacks were reported–more than 75% of the 2016 figure, which was the worst year for such violence since 2010. The attacks include mob lynching, attacks by vigilantes, murder and attempts to murder, harassment, assault and gang rape. In two attacks, the victims/survivors were chained, stripped and beaten, while in two others, the victims were hanged.

Read more: Daesh in Kashmir: A Hindutva dream come true

Gau raksha can be considered to be the main force behind the emergence of Hindutva. Perhaps the first indication of Hindutva emergence was the altercation over the dispute of cow slaughter. In 1870, the Namdhari Sikhs started the Kukua Revolution, revolting against the British, and seeking to protect the cows from slaughter.

A few years later, Swami Dayananda Saraswati called for the cessation of cow slaughter by the British and proposed the formation of Cow Protection Centres. In the 1870s, cow protection movements spread rapidly in Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province, Oudh (now Awadh) and Rohilkhand. The Arya Samaj played a great part in expertly altering this sentiment into a national movement.

86% killed in cow-related violence since 2010 are Muslim. 97% of the attacks have happened after the Modi-led BJP government came to power.

According to experts, the symbol of the cow was masterfully utilized to rouse religious sentiments. It was not long before violence found its way to this movement. The first riots broke out between Hindus and Muslims in Mau in the Azamgarh district and took the government 3 days to regain control.

The violence did not end there, spreading to a riot in Bombay involving the working classes, and unrest occurred in places as far away as Rangoon, Burma. An estimated thirty-one to forty-five communal riots broke out over six months and a total of 107 people were killed.

In 1966 the issue of cow slaughter would raise its head again with violent agitation by Hindutva groups. The agitation culminated in a massive demonstration outside the Indian Parliament in New Delhi on 7th November 1966 when Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, did not accept the demand for a ban on cow slaughtering.

A few years later, Swami Dayananda Saraswati called for the cessation of cow slaughter by the British and proposed the formation of Cow Protection Centres.

A mob of 10,000 Hindutva activists led by Hindu holymen tried to storm the parliament but were repulsed. The mob then rampaged through the capital city. A 48-hour curfew was ordered, all the meetings were banned. The mob also attacked the then Congress president Kamaraj’s Delhi residence and set it on fire. Many died in police firing to control the crowd.

Read more: Mayawati’s declaration to convert echoes Dalit’s fears

The cow protection movement is the cornerstone of the modern Hindutva cause. While its supporters link it to cultural pride, it is more of a tool with which to bludgeon religious opponents into submission. This hypothesis is backed by both facts and statements.


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