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Rajinder Taggar | TNN | Rajapura (Patiala) | Aug 9, 2016:: The All India Gau Raksha Dal, along with its supporting organisations on Tuesday, decided to intensify its cow protection programme in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and UP.
A meeting of All India Gau Rakshak Dal, Vishav Hindu Parishad (VHP), Shiv Sena (Bal Thakeray) and Bajrang Dal took place in the Badi Gaushala, Purana Rajpura.
Harish Singla, president of Shiv Sena Patiala curtly declared that they had decided to intensify cow protection campaign even after the warnings issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They would collect hundreds of cows and make them sit in Delhi near the PM’s house, who was basically a tea vendor.
In one voice the participants praised Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for constructing gaushalas in all the district headquarters at government expense. They were tough towards Narendra Modi who had allegedly ditched them after coming to power, they said.
Satish Kumar along with two others was on Sunday booked by the Rajpura police for violence during cow protection campaign. He was whisked away after getting the information that two media teams were coming to interview Satish Kumar. To a question the gau rakshaks said that the accused trio had left a little while ago and they do not know where they were. Satish Kumars cell phone was not responding.
Superintendent Police Rajinder Singh Sohal said, “The three accused have been absconding after registration of the case.”
Gau Raksha Dal secretary Gurpreet Singh claimed, “Some of the bad elements were indulging in extortion under the garb of cow protection. A Bajrang Dal activist, close to the BJP, allegedly was caught for taking Rs 30,000 from a cow smuggler.” They denied if anybody had urinated in the mouth of a cow smuggler as reported by the media.
The Hindu radicals said that if an FIR could be registered for killing a lion why not for slaughtering a sacred cow. Those opposing the campaign should tell what had they done for wandering herds of cows?
Mahant Rajinder Chandi Das declared that they would not allow the police to arrest supporters of cow protection campaign. Bhagwan Krishan also loved cows and protected them, he said.
The Badi Gaushala was stated to be housing 1000 cows which were fed with fodder costing Rs 1 lakh every day. The gaushala had put to use machines which cut the green fodder. All the money came through donations.
The main accused Satish Kumar had got 500 FIRs registered against the cow smugglers. The smugglers’ lobby had now hatched a conspiracy to put him into trouble.
Interestingly, some of the radical leaders were accompanied by Punjab police constables armed with modern guns their body guards. On the other hand, the Rajpura police was searching for Satish Kumar and two others.
Agencies | Agra | Aug 9, 2016:: Two miles down the road from the white marble walls of the Taj Mahal, a heavyset man crouches in the dirt of a cow shed.
Digvijay Nath Tiwari is commander of a vigilante group that claims 5,000 members in the city of Agra, and which cultivates informants, swarms shop owners, ambushes trucks at night and metes out extra-judicial violence, all for one cause: protecting the holy cow.
Across the country, hardline Hindu groups have made headlines after being captured on video insulting and beating men they accuse of involvement in cow slaughter.
“Retaliation is important at times,” said Tiwari, as he sat with 17 men squeezed around a straw mat on the shed floor. His cell phone contained photographs of stick-wielding men rushing to the aid of fallen cattle.
Local police say they cannot stop Tiwari’s actions, laying the blame partly on lax laws.
The “gau rakshaks” or cow protectors risk undermining Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to focus on economic advancement.
The implications reach far beyond the winding alleyways of Agra.
Social and religious stability are key to future assumptions of prosperity in India, currently the world’s fastest expanding major economy.
Cow slaughter is illegal in most of India. However, it had long been tolerated under the Congress which prides itself on protecting Muslims and lower castes who ply the meat and leather trade.
After being election, the PM has focussed on more pragmatic and inclusive economic issues: spurring growth and creating enough jobs for a rapidly expanding workforce.
In a speech on Saturday in Delhi, PM Modi lashed out at the cow protectors.
“I feel so angry at times. Some people who are engaged in anti-social activities for the whole night wear the mask of ‘gau rakshaks’ in the day,” he said.
A senior aide to the PM, who is approaching the halfway mark of his five-year tenure, said at the end of July that while the leader is aware of the social and economic implications, “we cannot do much to stop cow protection forces … cow protection is integral to our core support base.”
A disturbing video from Gujarat shows the violence of cow vigilante groups in Una a few weeks ago. Four Dalit men, shirtless, tied to a bumper being whipped with rods.
Chandra Bhan Prasad, a prominent Dalit writer and adviser to the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, compared the violence to that of Ku Klux Klan racism in the United States.
“It’s like India’s version of KKK – the past was great so long as these blacks were under our thumb, society was beautiful. So, how to control these Dalits?”
Champat Rai, a leader of the Hindu activist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), or World Hindu Council, a group formed by RSS leadership which oversees cow groups, was frank.
“I am a cow patriot and want to free cows from the slavery of Muslim butchers,” he said. “It’s better we shed our blood to save the blood of cows.”
In Agra, some 135 miles south of Delhi, a prominent Dalit businessmen in the city, H.K. Pippal, said recently at his shoe factory that he had a plan should the cow protection gang try to interfere with his operations and the cow leather it uses. “I am very powerful, my workers could kill them.”
Tiwari, the cow group leader, blames the butchers for much of the problem.”It’s not just that the butchers get beaten,” he said. “They attack us and threaten to kill us. It is a serious clash.”
Tiwari acknowledged having four criminal cases pending against him, but said he was innocent in all of them.
In February this year, the vice president of the VHP in Agra, who was also a senior member of Tiwari’s group, was surrounded by a group of five Muslims while walking from a temple to his furniture shop, according to a police report.
The men had previously been targeted by the cow protectors for allegedly dealing in beef, according to Tiwari.
One of them boasted: “You think that you are a big leader, we’ll teach you a lesson today,” said the police report.
A pistol shot rang out and the VHP official, Arun Mahour, fell dead in one of the oldest and busiest markets of Agra.
A mob of young Hindu men set out for a Muslim quarter, said the police officer in charge of the area, S.K. Sharma.
Soon, thousands of people were in the streets, Sharma said. “This almost became a riot between the Hindus and Muslims.”
Hiral Dave | HT Bureau | Ahmedabad | Aug 9, 2016:: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has in recent days hit out at self-styled ‘gau rakshaks’ for “running shops in the name of cow protection”.
Cow protectors, however, flourished in his home state Gujarat when he was the chief minister.
Between 2011 and 2014, the Gujarat government headed by Modi had disbursed Rs 75 lakhs in cash rewards to 1,394 vigilantes for raiding illegal cattle transporters and filing FIRs against them, the website of the government-run Gauseva and Gauchar Vikas Board (GGVB) states.
Almost an equal amount was given to 2,321 shelter providers for the rescued bovines. To provide further motivation to the cow protection volunteers, Rs 3.75 lakh was given to the ‘top performers’, which included recipients of the biennial Best Cow Protector award.
In the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Modi also denounced the ‘pink revolution’ (beef exports).
The GGVB was set up under the animal husbandry department in 1999, but remained defunct for almost a decade before Modi revived it in 2010. To make it proactive, his government introduced a slew of schemes, including a cash reward of Rs 500 for every FIR registered against cattle smugglers and transporters. There was even a biennial Best Cow Protector award worth Rs 25,000.
According to its website, the main objective of the GGVB is to “coordinate with groups involved in preventing slaughter of cow and progeny’’ and “effective implementation of cow protection laws”.
The then Modi government also increased the annual grant to the GGVB from Rs 1.5 crore to Rs 150 crore.
In 2011, the state assembly also passed the Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act 2011 that made transportation, consumption and sale of cow and progeny illegal. Before the new law was enacted, only slaughter of cows, calves, bulls and bullocks were banned.
Earlier, the penalty for violating the cow protection laws included imprisonment up to one year and fine of Rs 1,000. The amended Act provided jail terms up to seven years or fine of Rs 50,000, or both.
“Of the Rs 150 crore annual grant, Rs 100 crore is spent on developing pastoral lands. The remaining amount is utilised on various cattle welfare and protections schemes,” says GGVB chairman Dr Vallabh Kathiria.
The board’s revival and enactment of the stringent law coincided with the rise in the number of groups involved in cow protection. Currently, 50 such groups are active under the larger Gau Rakshak Dal (GRD) umbrella having roughly 10,000 members.
Modi’s criticism has not been received well by the gau rakshaks.
“The statement of the Prime Minister is like an encouragement to slaughter houses. For the safety of genuine gau rakshaks, the government should start issuing identity cards,” says Mayur Thakkar, president of the state GRD.
According to Thakkar, a Best Cow Protector awardee of 2012, groups affiliated with the GRD have filed roughly 100 cases annually over the last four years.
Neha Patel, probably the only woman Gau Rakshak in Gujarat, feels the PM’s statement that 70-80% vigilantes are anti-social elements is an exaggeration. “There are fake gau rakshaks too, but their percentage would be around 20 and not 80 as mentioned by the PM.”
__Courtesy: TOI/NDTV/HT/Agencies. Pic: FB.
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