Once the domain of the Maharaja’s queen bee, the ‘Beehive’ is, nowadays, no longer off-limits to other members of the sisterhood. While the Hawa Mahal is the epitome of what’s beautiful about Jaipur, its now being open to the general public marks the end of what once was a window on the world from the inside out. Continue reading
Maybe the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) uncertainty about the way forward isn’t the only reason the makeover of the Taj Mahal is behind schedule. Regardless of whether the ASI is getting its fair share of the pie from their … Continue reading
Since foreign and domestic tourists boost the coffers of the Taj Mahal and its hometown of Agra by millions of rupees per year, why aren’t they both in better nick? Continue reading
‘In the light of day’ is a snapshot of the unique sights and sounds that one sees and hears on the west bank of the Ganges in venerable Varanasi. Continue reading
‘A City for Some Seasons’ is a simple go-to climate guide for Varanasi where temperatures range from mild to very vindaloo. Continue reading
After marrying a man who was born in the Indian State of Punjab, the next best thing I did in the Mrs. Bedi chapter of my life, was to take Punjabi lessons because my teacher became my first friend in … Continue reading
My Cow’s Cowards blog of September 3, highlighted the increase in violence across India in the name of ‘cow protectionism.’ Three days later, the Supreme Court of India directed the 29 States and 7 Union Territories to appoint a senior … Continue reading
Part I of this blog, examined the fall out in Chandigarh from the five-month nation-wide alcohol ban handed down by India’s Supreme Court to decrease the deaths on highways caused by drink driving. Luckily, the ban was lifted four days … Continue reading
I always hear about Kuldip’s golf woes when he gets home after playing 18 holes. The trouble he got into recently on the Chandigarh Golf Course, however, had nothing to do with either his long or short game. Kuldip had, … Continue reading
The introduction of Prohibition in India in 2016 was ridiculous, but the arrival of the cow vigilante two years earlier is downright dangerous.
The Diplomat, an online international public affairs magazine reported that, according to an analysis by IndiaSpend, a public interest journalism website, “63 incidents of [violence centered on bovine issues] were reported between 2010 and 2017. Ninety-seven percent of these occurred after the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in May 2014. Twenty-five of these incidents were reported in 2016 alone.
At the time of writing, 2017 was shaping up to be a record-breaking year with 20 cow vigilante attacks reported in the first six months.
As of September 1, 2017, thugs had killed 28 people, including a 12-year-old boy, in the name of “cow protectionism.” Most were either hanged or beaten to death. Eighty-six percent were Muslim. (India has a population of 1.3 billion of which around 14 percent is Muslim.) The remaining 14 percent comprised mainly Dalits (also called Untouchables) who are at the bottom of the Hindu caste system.
Muslims dominate the beef industry, but the Dalits do the dirty work. They’re the ones that skin the cows and tan the leather. Both Muslims and some Dalits are meat eaters, which is another beef related activity anathema to the cow protectionists. The latter of the two, I suspect, eat meat out of necessity.
The vigilante group that I call Cow’s Cowards is just one of numerous Hindu extremist groups that have sprung up across India since 2014 to enforce the BJP party’s right wing and anti-Muslim views.
India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, publically condemns the attacks on anyone who works with beef or eats it. But, empirical evidence exists that there is a link between his ruling party’s membership and the umbrella groups under which these cow vigilantes operate. It’s widely known, for example, that action against such violence is rarely taken, particularly in the BJP-held States and that more often than not, the victims, not the vigilantes, are punished.
Over the years the cow has become a potent symbol of the Hindu supremacist ideology called Hindutva, which defines India as a Hindu nation driven solely by Hindu values. Advocates of this ideology want a nation-wide ban on meat to foist Hindu food onto those who don’t subscribe to their religious doctrine, especially the Muslims who they despise, and it’s not far off. Slaughtering cows and eating beef is already illegal or restricted in many states throughout India.
Having the BJP in power has made it easier for groups that support Hindutva, such as the influential Bhartiya Gau Raksha Dal (BGRD), to put “cow protection’” near the top of the political agenda.
According to their website, the BGRD’s sole objective is “to care for stray, abandoned cows, bulls, retired oxen and orphaned calves.” But the results of my research illustrate that an equivalent of the RSPCA, the BGRD is not. One can easily find videos on the Internet showcasing the vicious tactics used by BGRD fanatics against Muslims and Dalits in the name of animal welfare. The scenes are brutal.
The rise of popularism combined with the emergence of extremist, right-wing factions are a reason for concern in India. A friend told me recently that, in her opinion, Modi and his ruling the BJP Party were taking India back to the dark ages and she feared for the future of her children. Based on the images I have seen and the incident reports I have read in the newspapers about the activities of the so-called cow vigilantes alone, educated people in India, like my friend, have every right to worry.
The rise of widespread violence primarily against Muslims in the name of Hinduism that’s currently spreading across India would make the country’s best-known pacifist, Mahatma Gandhi, turn in his grave.
I get it that millions of Hindus worship cows because of their motherhood status. It’s unfortunate, however, that some of them don’t equally cherish human life itself.