Sunday, April 9, 2017

Samar Halarnkar - Terrorism in the name of the cow: India's ruling party is sponsoring an assault on the Indian state / Tavleen Singh - Fifth column: Is this Hindutva ?

NB: This government has shown itself to be hand in glove with outright criminals. All peace-loving and law-abiding citizens should follow the facts of this case dispassionately and judge for themselves whether or not the Modi government and its RSS-affiliated allies are upholding the law of the land or destroying it in full light of day. Judges, bureaucrats and police officers may kindly note - the poorest Indians will have no protection left if the servants of the Constitution betray their oath of office - DS

This demand to amend the Constitution to ban cow slaughter, prohibit transport of cows across states and to make it applicable to all states and ensure it is a non-bailable offence was not made by fundamentalist Hindu groups but by a seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India in 2005. The judgement, otherwise notable for declaring cow dung more valuable than the “Kohinoor diamond”, offers some clues to the emergence of terrorism in the name of the holy cow. Make no mistake, the killing of Pehlu Khan, a 55-year-old Muslim dairy farmer in Alwar, Rajasthan, earlier this week, is now part of a pattern that appears to fit this description of terrorism (cobbled together from various explanations): The unlawful use of violence and intimidation, designed to induce terror and psychic fear for political or religious purposes.

Someone on social media, that simultaneous repository of truth and lies, called this emerging strain of terrorism Gautankwad: Terrorism in the name of the the holy cow, derived from aatankwad, the Hindi word for terrorism. Gautankwad is more dangerous than the conventional variety of terrorism because it is either condoned or supported by the state. This support may not be material, yet, but it is systemic and systematic, and it is subverting the institutions meant to act against such terrorism.
When Mohammed Akhlaq was lynched to death in Dadri in 2015, after rumours and allegations were spread that he had eaten beef or when Majloom Ansari and Imtiaz Khan were hung from a tree in 2016 in Jharkhand for ferrying cattle, the state said these were “isolated incidents”, a term beloved of Indians to either justify what should never be justified or simply to ignore inconvenient facts (it is the same term used by Delhi to describe the racism and violence against Africans).

As this timeline indicates, Gautankwad is no longer about “isolated incidents”. Official justifications grow not just about the deification of the cow but the violent Hindutva culture coalescing around the unfortunate animal (otherwise left to eat garbage, plastic and live and die on India’s streets and cow shelters – in Kanpur, 152 cows died in five months). The Rajasthan home minister said there were faults on “both sides”, as his police proceeded with cases against the murdered farmer and his brutalised sons by these non-state actors. His chief minister condoled a terrorist attack in Stockholm, but cannot bring herself to say anything about the man lynched to death by Gautanwadi terrorists in her state… read more:

It is horrible to watch a man being beaten to death. And, yet I forced myself to watch the video of Pehlu Khan’s lynching more than once. Not from cheap voyeurism but because I found it hard to understand why this was happening at all. The young men who kicked him and beat him with iron rods did not look like fanatics. They looked like modern young Indians. They wore tight jeans and fancy shirts that indicated an interest in fashion. They seemed educated and middle-class and, for me, this made their savagery more horrible. More disturbing. They took obvious pleasure in what they were doing and made it clear that their intention was not to harm Khan and his sons but to kill them. They videotaped the lynching and posted it on social media so the Prime Minister would have seen it and the Chief Minister of Rajasthan. Why did they say nothing to indicate that they were sickened by what they saw? In Parliament, a senior minister first denied that anything had happened at all and then bizarrely added that the House must be careful not to give the impression that Parliament approved of cow slaughter. The Home Minister of Rajasthan went one awful step further and said in so many words that both sides were to blame for what happened. Both sides? Both sides? A man was beaten to death in a manner that reminded everyone of earlier barbaric times when there was no rule of law. And there is another side? That this comes from the man who has the responsibility to enforce the law in Rajasthan is not just worrying but terrifying.

This is not about cows and cow slaughter. It is not even about Hindus and Muslims even if the killers were Hindu and the victims Muslim. This is about whether India is a country in which there is the rule of law or not. If there is, then anyone who takes the law into his own hands becomes a criminal. Should this not be obvious? But not only is it not obvious to the government of Rajasthan, it seems not to be obvious to the Prime Minister. When cow vigilantes killed Mohammad Akhlaq, they disrespected the law of the land and the Prime Minister said nothing. So now emboldened vigilante squads roam our highways in search of more victims. When they spot a vehicle transporting cattle, they attack without checking if their victims are cattle smugglers or dairy farmers. Pehlu Khan was just a dairy farmer. But in this time of vigilante madness, these things do not matter. If these vigilantes were truly interested in the welfare of cows, it would be something, but they are not. Had they been, they would have noticed that hundreds of cows routinely die of neglect and starvation in government shelters.

If cow protection is their motive, why are they not rescuing cows abandoned in the streets of our cities? Why are they not teaching pious Hindus that it is more humane to kill a cow than abandon it when it is old and useless? Why do they not teach them that there is nothing more cruel than leaving an aged animal to fend for itself? So is this movement really about saving cows or killing Muslims? Since nearly always it is Muslims who become the victims of cow vigilantes, it would be fair to say that these are really hate crimes… read more:

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