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When will the lynchings end?

By Aakar Patel
Last updated on: July 07, 2017 12:31 IST
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'One minute and 45 seconds of that clip are on Modi praising gauraksha.'
'In the last 30 seconds he speaks about violence, but says only that killing is unacceptable.'
'We don't need the prime minister to tell us that.'
'We need him to tell us why the killing is happening and what he will do to stop it,' says Aakar Patel.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/

Is gaurakshak violence, meaning the killing of Indians over beef, a problem in India?

If so, what can be done to solve it?

The non-profit data journalism Web site Indiaspend has reported that 97% of gauraksha violence has happened after Narendra Modi's government came to power.

Once the Union and state governments run by the BJP in Maharashtra, Haryana and elsewhere began to push for a beef ban, the murders started.

The facts are quite clear here and to illustrate them, let's have a look just at the last few weeks and what has happened across India.

Jharkhand, June 29: Alimuddin Ansari, a trader, was killed after being assaulted by a mob in Ramgarh, near Ranchi. This happened hours after Prime Minister Modi said he opposed violence.

Jharkhand, June 27: Usman Ansari, a dairy farmer, was beaten up by a mob of about 100 people and part of his house set on fire, reportedly after a dead cow was seen outside his house.

Police officials told journalists that the attackers had also thrown stones at them, injuring 50 police personnel.

West Bengal, June 24: Nasirul Haque, Mohammed Samiruddin and Mohammed Nasir, three construction workers, were beaten to death by a mob, allegedly for stealing cows, in North Dinajpur, West Bengal.

Three people have been arrested so far, and a murder case registered.

Haryana, June 22: 15-year-old Junaid Khan was stabbed to death inside a train in Haryana.

Junaid was called a 'beef-eater' and his skull cap thrown away before he was stabbed. His brother was severely injured.

Survivors' accounts in some media reports say that at least 20 people were involved in the attack.

The state police have arrested four people.

Maharashtra, May 26: Two Muslim meat traders were attacked by a cow vigilante squad in Malegaon, on suspicion of possessing beef.

Video footage of the incident appeared to show the men being slapped and abused, and told to say 'Jai Sri Ram'.

Nine men have been arrested. The two meat traders also face criminal charges for 'outraging religious feelings'.

Assam, April 30: Abu Hanifa and Riazuddin Ali were lynched by a mob in Nagaon, on suspicion of cow theft.

The police have registered a murder case, but have not yet made any arrests.

Rajasthan, April 1: 55-year-old farmer Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer, and four other Muslim men were assaulted by a mob near a highway in Alwar, Rajasthan.

Khan died two days later. The mob falsely accused the men of being cow smugglers.

Following the killing, the home minister of Rajasthan, in a statement that appeared to justify the killing, said Khan belonged to a family of cow smugglers.

Three people have been arrested.

When the Jharkhand lynching of June 27 happened, Indians rallied across the country to say that these killings were happening under government protection and they should be stopped.

Modi tweeted a couple of days later: 'There is no place for violence in India. Let us create an India that would make Gandhi Ji proud.' The tweet has a video attached that is 2 minutes and 16 seconds long.

It is a speech Modi gave in Gujarat on June 29, where he spoke on cow slaughter.

One minute and 45 seconds of that clip are on Modi praising ,em>gauraksha.

In the last 30 seconds he speaks about violence, but says only that killing is unacceptable.

Of course it is, we don't need the prime minister to tell us that.

We need him to tell us why the killing is happening and what he will do to stop it.

The problem can be understood in the priorities as revealed in those 2 minutes and 16 seconds.

So long as Modi and the BJP push gauraksha, India will produce gau rakshaks. It should not be difficult to understand.

There is a second problem and that is the refusal of Modi and the BJP to accept that their actions have a communal angle.

Meat and leather are the occupations of Muslims and Dalits. These are the communities that have become vulnerable because of gauraksha and to deny that is hypocrisy.

Union Minister Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu said after the latest killing in Jharkhand that it should not be linked to religion.

The problem is that the data shows Naidu to be wrong. It is linked to religion if it is only, or mainly, Muslims that are getting assaulted and murdered by the gauraksha programme.

The Congress does not have a real position on this and in Gujarat it has spoken out in favour of gauraksha.

Individuals in the party have attacked the government. Former Union minister P Chidambaram said after Modi's speech that 'on a day when PM warned gau rakshaks, Mohd Alimuddun was lynched by a mob in Jharkhand. Obviously, lynch mobs don't fear PM.'

'PM warned gau rakshaks and lynch mobs. Good. Let him tell the country how he will enforce his writ,' the former home minister added.

Indiaspend says that 25 attacks happened in 2016.

In 2017, in only six months, already 21 attacks have taken place.

The problem is escalating and it is obvious.

The whole world is waiting to see how Modi will put an end to it.

Aakar Patel is Executive Director, Amnesty International India. The views expressed here are his own.

  • You can read Aakar's earlier columns here.
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Aakar Patel