The first case of cow vigilantism in the state of Odisha has come to light on Wednesday as two men were brutally beaten up a group of cow protectors at the Bhubaneswar railway station.
The attack took place around 9.30 am in the morning when a Noida-based dairy farm was transporting 20 milch cows from Salem in Tamil Nadu to Meghalaya in two parcel vans of the Kochuveli-Guwahati Express, as reported by The Hindu.
The transport of cattle was part of the Southern Railway’s “unique initiative” announced on May 24 which expanded parcel traffic by commencing transportation of Livestock in parcel vans.
Despite having all legal documents which described the cows in good health and were being supplied by a private firm to the animal husbandry department, more than 25 vigilantes barged into the station, beat the men and tied them to a pole in public glare.
The miscreants claimed to be members of Bajrang Dal, an extremist Hindu organisation that forms part of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and is a member of the RSS family.
It is alleged that nobody from the security establishments intervened to detain the attackers even though they gave interviews to local news channels, proudly bragging their deed.
An hour after the attack, the injured cattle traders were rescued by Railway Police Force personnel. Later, the station superintendent lodged a complaint with GRP stating 25 unknown persons attacked two dairy farm workers.
Two Bajrang Dal activists have been arrested till now and the government railway police said on Sunday that more arrests are likely to follow.
Incidentally, the attack came after the centre announced an all-India ban on cattle slaughter on Tuesday.
The Logical Indian take
The Bhubaneswar attack is one among the streak of brutal assaults on innocents by cow vigilantes in the name of cow protection. Such incidents in the past have not only left victims severely wounded but have also caused their death.
In times like these, it was essential that the government reinstates trust in the minds of the general public, assuring them that their lives mean more than fueling a political agenda.
However, the centre has turned a blind eye towards the well-being of its citizens by not punishing the criminals and in fact banning the sale of cattle for slaughter which forms the livelihood of millions of Indians.
This will hurt poor farmers and cripple supplies to India’s meat industry – the largest exporter of beef in the world.
The worst hit, however, will be the lower castes and Muslim leather traders who are already facing brutal violence in the name of cow protection. Farmers who sell non-milch and ageing cattle for a traditional source of income will also be adversely affected.
The topic of cow protection gained political importance after the BJP government came to power in 2014.
The ruling party has easily passed laws to keep its vote bank protected, but the ban on the slaughter of all cattle has huge economic implications.
Only 30% of the cattle slaughtered in the country are used for consumption – either local or export – while 70% are used by the leather industry and for the production of items like buttons, soap, toothpaste, paint brushes, surgical stitches, and other items of daily use.
So when the government of India issued notifications prohibiting the slaughter of cattle, it did a lot more than hitting the meat industry – it has, in fact, hit the livelihood of its citizens.
Moreover, the move cannot even be justified from the angle of protection of cows. Farmers and cattle breeders will no longer feel the need to care for non-milch and ageing cows as their traditional source of income to sell them off for slaughter is no longer an option. This, in turn, will increase the number of stray cows in the country. When cows are left to roam with no food and water, they lead a life worse than being slaughtered.
Gau Rakshaks turned hooligans are already taking on anyone they feel like – sometimes, lynching innocents to death. The ban on cow slaughter does nothing more than giving them the right to act with impunity. Criminals who already act without the fear of the law, now have the law on their side.
As a country, we have much more pressing issues at hand than to ban or not ban the sale/slaughter of an animal. However, the government sees it more fit to maintain its political stronghold rather than fixing the existing problems.
The repercussion of such a ban means that the government controls what we eat – stripping our fundamental right from us. More importantly, it also increases the chance of atrocities against minority sections of the society.