Cow protection is a legitimate occupation. Cows, like humans, need protecting. But like Islam undeniably getting a bad rap because of Islamicist violence -violence committed in the name of Islam -gau raksha has also been tarnished by elements whose misguided enthusiasm to beat up folks and even murder them would make the cows go home far earlier than the phrase would have them.
It is also heartening to know that Modi’s was not an empty admonishment. Those responsible for the flogging of four Dalits for their `sin’ of skinning dead cattle have been hauled up by the law. But the fact that dossiers are being prepared is assuring. These vigilantes are an organised lot and the PM accentuated that by stating that “80% of them will be found to be involved in activities which no society will approve of “. (One is guessing that the remaining 20% are self-styled gau rakshaks who are otherwise decent folks, with family and hearth and run legit operations like mobile card top-up shops and mithai outlets.) My earlier comparison of these nocturnal Mr Hydes-diurnal St Francis of Assassins with Islamist terror-makers is quite fetching, even if I say so myself. Lumpens as well as bored thrill-seekers find terrorism of both varieties appealing. It provides them with a sense of purpose. Blowing up non-believers and apostates and beating up or thrashing to death `those who don’t love the cow enough’ may seem like horrible crimes of demented minds to us. But to the participants, it’s the right thing, a crusade -yes, a jihad, no matter how much the head of the Gau Raksha Dal Punjab, Satish Kumar, bristles at the non-Sanskritised word applicable to his activities.
And they have bragging rights. “I don’t mind if someone calls me a goon for saving the cow. If someone who saves the cow is labelled a goon, I’ll be proud to become the country’s biggest goon,“ said aforementioned Satish Kumar, who may think of walking about in a balaclava if his intents match his future actions. So, the PM’s fingerwagging may not really shame them to stop their vigilantism.
But what Modi has also done by speaking out against gauhadists is tell all and sundry that he, his governme nt and his party are not going to provide these holy cowers cover, no matter what those who equate `cow’ with `Hindutva’ and `Sanskrit’ with ` A ha! A diabolical right-wing plan to wipe out Onge from India’ think his speech may be about. (Incidentally , Onge, the language spoken by the Onge people in the Little Andamans, is spoken today by 96 speakers most of them who don’t speak any other language. So, Sanskrit baiters can relax a bit.) The official follow-ups now promised by Modi against the usual suspects also cements the notion that this government knows the difference between real gau raksha and faux gau protection. What the authorities will now have to be on their hooves about is look out for `lone bull’ operations where groups not in Modi’s 80% circle expand in a scattered way and engage in copy cat vigilantism.
Snipers will keep sniping about Modi’s concern coming out of his worries about not losing Dalit votes in the run-up to elections in cow-belt Uttar Pradesh, dhokla-belt Gujarat and crystal meth-belt Punjab. Even if this is true -and there are only that many telepaths in this world who can confirm or deny what Modi’s brain transmitted to his vocal chords at the town hall event in Delhi -isn’t his signal a good thing?
The schizophrenic nature of those gau rakshaks -go-to men by day and run-from guys by night -make it easier to crack down on them. After all, that big daddy of organised crime Al Capone was finally arrested not for the mob killings he had ordered or for his vast bootlegging operations in Prohibition America (please note, Nitish Kumar-ji) but for unpaid taxes.So, if it becomes a bit tricky to pick these gau goons up for having the BJP come across as being a bit unholy on cows, let Modi’s gau-ahead on Saturday serve as a signal to pick these antisocial cowherds on charges of what they do `at night’.