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India – Some unsacred questions about the sacred cow

It is unfortunate that cow politics continued to flourish even after Independence. At its root was the same brahmanical mindset that led to the inclusion of the ban on cow slaughter under the Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution. Gandhian thought, which considered protecting the cow a duty of the Hindus, was behind these brahmanical policies

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The police looked the other way as gau rakshaks beat up Dalits for skinning a dead cow in Una, Gujarat

At long last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence on the brutal assault on Dalits in BJP-ruled Gujarat and assured the nation that cow vigilantes would be reined in. But it is difficult to say whether the Hindutvavadi government will actually take action against these fascist cow protectors.

Anti-social “gau rakshaks” had publicly flogged Dalits in Una town of Somnath district for skinning a dead cow. Through the barbaric attack, the saffron brigade sent out a clear signal that it will go to any extent to protect the “gau mata”, even it means committing crimes – thrashing Dalits and Muslims to stuffing cow dung into their mouths to even murdering them. It is hard to believe that all this was going on for so long and the police and the government didn’t know about it. The marauders are far from subdued. In Una again, they attacked Dalits who were returning from the huge “Dalit Asmita Rally” and the police looked on.

Let alone remote areas, even Delhi is not free from the terror of the cow protectors. Hindu fascists have painted their manifesto on the walls of the national capital demanding that cow killers be hanged. When capital punishment is sought for the killers of the cow, it fills the hearts of India’s Bahujans (which include Dalits, OBCs, Tribals, Muslims and other religious minorities) with terror.

History stands testimony to the fact that the trend of whipping up religious passions in the name of the cow began in the colonial era and its objective was to unite the Hindus politically and socially and strengthen the brahmanical system.

The brahmanical leadership had realized in the 19th century itself that cow was a handy issue for uniting the Hindus – who were deeply divided into innumerable castes and sects and had regional variations too – and for pitting them against non-Hindus.

Violence in the name of the “sacred cow” began in 1870 and its target was mainly the Muslims. In 1882, the Gau Raksha Sanstha was established under the leadership of Dayanand Saraswati, founder of Arya Samaj. Dayanand Saraswati used it to build Hindu unity on the one hand and fan anti-Muslim sentiment on the other. Gradually, other organizations committed to the protection of the cow came into being. In 1893, the issue triggered a major riot in Azamgarh. The violence that followed left more than 100 people dead in different parts of the country. In 1912-13, there was bloodshed in Ayodhya for the “sacred cow”. In 1917, Bihar’s Shahabad witnessed communal violence, in which Muslims suffered loss of life and property. What was unfortunate was that a large number of leaders of the Congress – which swore by secularism and Hindu-Muslim unity – also joined the rioters. A big section of Congressmen clandestinely joined hands with Hindu Mahasabha – a rabidly communal organization – and participated in the riots that it had engineered. Mohammed Sajjad, a historian from Aligarh, writes in his book Muslim Politics in Bihar, that after this riot, a large number of Muslims deserted the Congress. Thus, it can be said without any doubt that riots in the name of the cow significantly weakened Hindu-Muslim unity during the freedom struggle.

#Vaw #Justice" data-image-description="<div id="top"> <div> <div> <div> <div>J<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/biography/joan-smith">oan Smith</a>, The Independent</div> </div> <div></div> </div> <div> <p>Tuesday 6 November 2012</p> </div> <div> <h1></h1> </div> <div> <p>Some friends and supporters of <a class="zem_slink" title="Ched Evans" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ched_Evans" target="_blank" rel="wikipedia">Ched Evans</a> wrote the name of the woman he raped on <a class="zem_slink" title="Twitter" href="http://twitter.com" target="_blank" rel="homepage">Twitter</a> – all they got was a measly fine.</p> </div> </div> <div> <div></div> </div> </div> <div id="content"> <div id="areas"> <div id="main-container"> <div id="main"> <div> <div> <div> <div id="galleriaLoadId-8099134"><img alt="" src="http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/article8289936.ece/ALTERNATES/w620/83463074.jpg" height="465" /></div> </div> </div> </div> <div> <div id="fullwidth"> <ul> <li></li> </ul> </div> <div> <p>What merits the more severe penalty – tweeting abuse about an unconscious man who is unaware of it or publicly naming a victim of sexual violence?</p> </div> <div> <div> <p>Two days ago, yet another case involving abuse on social networking sites came to court and the outcome – paltry fines for a group of defendants – demonstrates the jaw-dropping inconsistency of the criminal justice system. The case also speaks volumes about hostile attitudes towards victims of sexual violence in this country.</p> <p>In March this year, the Bolton Wanderers footballer <a class="zem_slink" title="Fabrice Muamba" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fabrice_Muamba" target="_blank" rel="wikipedia">Fabrice Muamba</a> collapsed on the pitch during an FA Cup match at <a class="zem_slink" title="White Hart Lane" href="http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=51.6033333333,-0.0658333333333&spn=0.01,0.01&q=51.6033333333,-0.0658333333333 (White%20Hart%20Lane)&t=h" target="_blank" rel="geolocation">White Hart Lane</a>. He was rushed to hospital in east London, where medical staff battled for hours to save his life. Muamba eventually recovered though not, sadly, to a point where he was able to return to playing football. On the afternoon of his collapse, a drunken student called Liam Stacey from South Wales mocked Muamba and posted “racially aggravated” abuse on Twitter. In no time, Stacey was arrested, charged and sentenced to 56 days in prison, as well as being banned from his course at Swansea University for the rest of the year. Stacey’s behaviour was callous and unthinking but even at the time the penalty seemed out of proportion to the damage he’d actually done.</p> <p>The following month, the Wales and <a class="zem_slink" title="Sheffield United F.C." href="http://www.sufc.co.uk/" target="_blank" rel="homepage">Sheffield United</a> footballer Ched Evans was sent to prison for five years for a very nasty rape. His 19-year-old victim showed enormous courage when she reported the assault, which happened in a hotel room in Rhyl at the end of an evening when she had been drinking heavily. According to Nita Dowell, senior crown prosecutor in Wales, Evans “took advantage of a vulnerable woman who was in no fit state to consent to sexual activity. He did so knowingly and with a total disregard for her physical and emotional wellbeing”. <a class="zem_slink" title="Chief Inspector" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chief_Inspector" target="_blank" rel="wikipedia">Detective Chief Inspector</a> Steve Williams said the victim had shown “a great deal of resilience and strength in difficult circumstances”.</p> <p>But footballers are celebrities, and the court’s view of Evans’s criminal behaviour was certainly not shared by his friends and supporters. They rushed on to Twitter and Facebook to vent their rage, not against the man who’d let them and his club down so badly but against his victim. Unlike Muamba, who was in hospital and receiving the best medical care when Stacey abused him, the young woman in the Evans case was trying to recover from the gruelling experience of a rape trial. She was obviously vulnerable but the defendants didn’t care, using social networking sites to name her and abuse her as a “slut”, a “tramp” and a “whore”.</p> <p>Rape victims are entitled to lifelong anonymity and nine individuals appeared in court on Monday, accused of publishing material likely to lead members of the public to identify the complainant in a rape case. District judge Andrew Shaw did not mince his words, telling the defendants at Prestatyn magistrates court that they had acted with “deliberate malice”. He said: “Your actions have <a class="zem_slink" title="Victimisation" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victimisation" target="_blank" rel="wikipedia">revictimised</a> this woman.” He imposed the maximum penalty on each of them, but that’s only a £624 fine.</p> <p>If Stacey’s behaviour towards an unconscious Muamba merits a prison sentence, why is this offence treated so leniently? One of the tweets, posted by 26-year-old Paul Devine from Sheffield, not only named the woman but urged strangers to find her address. Surely, that’s intimidation? In court, Devine said he was angry because his team Sheffield United had just lost to <a class="zem_slink" title="Milton Keynes Dons F.C." href="http://www.mkdons.co.uk" target="_blank" rel="homepage">MK Dons</a>. Presumably, he thought the team would have played better with a convicted rapist in its ranks, but it’s hardly an excuse for what he did.</p> <p>Holly Price, a 25-year-old biology teacher from Prestatyn, is another of the individuals who named the victim on Twitter. She retweeted a message which revealed the woman’s identity and added her own comment: “money-grabbing slut. poor little victim. WTF?” The defendants were sheepish in court and apologised, claiming they had no idea that naming a <a class="zem_slink" title="Effects and aftermath of rape" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_and_aftermath_of_rape" target="_blank" rel="wikipedia">rape victim</a> was a criminal offence. That doesn’t address the obvious point that it’s morally indefensible, whatever the law says.</p> <p>What were these people thinking of? At a moment when the country is reeling under a torrent of accusations about child sexual abuse linked to <a class="zem_slink" title="Jimmy Savile" href="http://www.last.fm/music/Jimmy%2BSavile" target="_blank" rel="lastfm">Jimmy Savile</a>, it’s instructive to get a glimpse into the thought processes of members of the public reacting to the outcome of a rape trial.  Convictions are not easy to secure, as campaigners against sexual violence know very well, and, in this case, Evans had been found guilty and given a condign sentence. Yet blaming the complainant is so reflexive that the defendants simply ignored the verdict.</p> <p>This is not the only instance of this kind of behaviour in recent history. The two women who have accused Julian Assange of rape and sexual assault have been hounded on the internet. Something similar happened to the woman who accused the former head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, of attempted rape in a New York hotel. The charges were dropped and the politician is now back in France, where he faces charges relating to a prostitution ring in Lille.</p> <p>Abuse of women who say they’ve been raped is habitual, in other words, and the effect of social networking sites is to make it more overt. Over and over again, research shows that fear of being blamed acts as a deterrent when women are deciding whether to seek help or go to the police. In a survey carried out this year by the website Mumsnet, more than four-fifths of respondents who said they’d been raped did not report the attack, and over half gave embarrassment or shame as the reason. Another report, compiled for The Haven service for victims of assault in London, found that more than half of respondents would be too ashamed or embarrassed to go to the police.</p> <p>This is why the offences committed in the Ched Evans case are worse, in my view, than Liam Stacey’s drunken abuse of Fabrice Muamba. I’m not in favour of sending more people to prison but I’d like to see heavier penalties for naming rape victims, perhaps in the form of community service with organisations that help victims of sexual violence. This “naming and shaming” of women who say they’ve been raped is a form of terrorism, and it has to stop.</p> <p><em>Twitter: @polblonde</em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <h6 class="zemanta-related-title" style="font-size:1em;">Related articles</h6> <ul class="zemanta-article-ul"> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/at-a-glance/main-section/nine-in-court-for-tweeting-name-of-ched-evans-rape-victim-1-5093748" target="_blank">Nine in court for tweeting name of Ched Evans rape victim</a> (yorkshirepost.co.uk)</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/nine-plead-guilty-to-revealing-identity-of-ched-evans-rape-victim-online-8282354.html" target="_blank">Nine plead guilty to revealing identity of Ched Evans rape victim online</a> (independent.co.uk)</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/facebook-and-twitter-users-face-court-for-naming-ched-evans-rape-victim-8281521.html" target="_blank">Facebook and Twitter users face court for ‘naming Ched Evans rape victim’</a> (standard.co.uk)</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/ched-evans-rape-victim-identified-1418015" target="_blank">Ched Evans rape victim identified: Nine people plead guilty and are fined £624 each</a> (mirror.co.uk)</li> </ul> <p> </p> " data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" class="wp-image-9535" src="https://i2.wp.com/www.forwardpress.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/2-3-1.jpg?resize=504%2C287&ssl=1" sizes="(max-width: 504px) 100vw, 504px" srcset="https://i2.wp.com/www.forwardpress.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/2-3-1.jpg?resize=300%2C171&ssl=1 300w, https://i2.wp.com/www.forwardpress.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/2-3-1.jpg?resize=600%2C343&ssl=1 600w, https://i2.wp.com/www.forwardpress.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/2-3-1.jpg?w=700&ssl=1 700w" alt="2 (3)" width="504" height="288" />

Gau rakshaks

It is unfortunate that cow politics continued to flourish even after Independence. At its root was the same brahmanical mindset that led to the inclusion of the ban on cow slaughter under the Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution. Gandhian thought, which considered protecting the cow a duty of the Hindus, was behind these brahmanical policies.

One by one, most of the states promulgated cow protection laws that were anti-people and gave the police and the administration a tool to harass innocent citizens. Today, these laws are being used to harass Bahujans.

The RSS and its auxiliary organizations have been taking the law into their hands ostensibly to protect cows. Thousands of cow protection bodies are operating in the country under the aegis of the RSS. An investigation would surely reveal the Sangh Parivar connections of the men who assaulted Dalits in Una, Gujarat.

The RSS wants to gain a firmer foothold among the Hindus and spread hatred against the Muslims through these organizations. It has been peddling the white lie that cow slaughter began in India with the advent of Muslims. Historians reject this notion outright. In his well-known book The Myth of the Holy Cow, renowned historian D.N. Jha writes that people consumed cow meat in the Vedic and post-Vedic eras and that Hindus did not always regard the cow as sacred. That was so even in the brahmanical era that followed the Vedic age. Then, cow meat was served as a delicacy in feasts.

Similarly, great historian D.D. Kosambi writes in his path-breaking essay Caste or Race that while Vedic Brahmins ate cow meat, Saraswat Brahmins and Brahmins of Kashmir and Bengal did not lose their caste even if they consumed meat.

Historians are unanimous that consumption of cow meat was prohibited in religious scriptures written after the Vedic age. Brahmins tried to enforce the ban but society never accepted it fully. As sociologists have repeatedly pointed out, no society is solely guided by religious texts. In India, with its bewildering diversity of religions, castes and communities, it would have been impossible for the brahmanical forces to ensure total compliance with their norms.

Even Swami Vivekananda, whom RSS considers its hero, had advised Hindus to eat beef and play football. Historian Gyan Pandey revealed this titbit in his much talked-about article “Which of us are Hindus?”. The RSS, of course, vehemently denies it. For the RSS, the cow is central to the Hindu identity and it keeps on warning Dalits against any slip-up in respecting the cow.

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Dalits protest against cow vigilantism in Ahmedabad

Dr B.R. Ambedkar had exposed the politics of the “sacred cow”, categorically asserting that it was responsible for Untouchability. Babasaheb wrote that Dalits emerged as a community in the 4th century AD after Brahmanism got the better of the Buddhist religion. Altering their strategy, Brahmins began thrusting vegetarianism on the people and launched a campaign against consumption of beef. Since gypsy tribes were dependent on cow for meat, skin and other things, they steadfastly refused to stop consuming beef and as a punishment, Brahmins branded them as Untouchables. Thus, the system of Untouchability was born in our country 1500 years ago and is yet to be completely eliminated.

Post-Independence, there was hope that the bloody politics of cow protection would come to an end. But that did not happen. Many states have enforced draconian cow-protection statutes. While the RSS is using violent means to “protect the sacred cow”, that section of society which calls itself “liberal” and “progressive” is keeping quiet – even though it knows very well that according “sacred” status to the cow may deprive millions of their source of livelihood. Most of the “progressives” are yet to gather the courage to speak out against the draconian cow protection laws.

In 2012, a so-called secular government was ruling the country. At that time, when some students of JNU – widely considered a progressive institution – asked some “unsacred” questions about the sacred cow, the administration charged them with spreading “unrest” by raking up a religious issue.

What is disturbing is the silence of the progressive camp. They do protest against the thuggery of cow protectors but their “revolutionary zeal” remains confined to the framework of law and order. If we really want to end the bloodshed in the name of sacred cow, we will have to stop looking at it only as a law-and-order issue. We will have to focus on its historical, social, economic, cultural and religious dimensions, too.https://www.forwardpress.in/2016/08/some-unsacred-questions-about-the-sacred-cow/

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Comment (1)

  1. K SHESHU BABU

    The spread of cow politics is politically motivated. It is creating violence and hared among people and disturbing the secular framework of constitution

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