Cow Vigilante Violence Increases in India Despite Supreme Court Order for Crack Down

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PKONWEB Report (New York) — Despite a Supreme Court order for police to crack down on the violators, Cow vigilantism continues in India.

Activists say the government has downplayed the attacks as most victims are either Muslims or Dalits—both communities are generally considered as not having voted for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

CNN reports cow vigilante crimes in India have been ignored or covered up, while lynching over the accusations of smuggling or slaughtering cows continues–in fact has increased, according to Aljazeera.

The National Post cites Human Rights Watch stating cow vigilantism is a pretext for nationalists to target India’s Muslim minority.

86% of those killed in cow-related violence in India since 2010 are Muslim, 97% of these attacks have taken place after Modi govt came to power in 2014.

And more than half (52%) of these attacks were based on rumors–mostly spread on social media.

About half the cow-related violence were from states governed by the BJP when the attacks were reported, revealed an analysis of violence recorded by The Hindustan Times until June 2017. Since then, the cow-related violence has not ebbed but in fact increased, reports Aljazeera.

Last month, ABC News reported that vigilante cow-protection groups in India have reportedly killed at least 44 people in the past four years.

A 104-page report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that the crimes largely target minorities, and go unpunished due to the support of law enforcement and, HRW said, “communal rhetoric by members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to spur a violent vigilante campaign against consumption of beef and those engaged in the cattle trade”.

HRW said police “often stalled prosecutions of the attackers, while several BJP politicians publicly justified the attacks”.

Human rights activist Harsh Mander told The Guardian many of the killings were filmed, with the footage shared.

“This ‘performative’ aspect of the violence recalls, for me, the lynchings of African-Americans in the US as a way of showing the status to which a community has been reduced.”

Members of a Hindu nationalist vigilante group pose with with cows they claimed to have saved from slaughter.

Many Hindus consider cows to be sacred and most states ban slaughtering cows, but the need to “save” cows and the proliferation of cow-protection groups around the country are recent phenomena.

HRW found a 500 per cent increase in communally divisive rhetoric in speeches by politicians, 90 per cent of which were from BJP members.

“Calls for cow protection may have started out as a way to attract Hindu votes, but it has transformed into a free pass for mobs to violently attack and kill minority group members,” said HRW’s South Asia director, Meenakshi Ganguly.

HRW said many cow-protection groups have clear ties to the BJP.

“Police face political pressure to sympathize with cow protectors and do a weak investigation and let them go free,” one retired senior police officer in Rajasthan told HRW.

“These vigilantes get political shelter and help.”

Prime Minister Modi, of the BJP, repeatedly called for the protection of cows before his 2014 victory.

HRW said he didn’t strongly condemn the killings until August 2018.

PM Modi and his BJP party are campaigning for a second stint —elections are being held in April/May. Polls indicate BJP may not get a majority this time, and may be forced to form a coalition government.

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