SC says states must appoint police officers to prevent cow vigilantism by Oct 13, pay compensation for violence
Focus on cow protection, especially by vigilante groups, has risen since the BJP-led government took power three years ago.(AP File Photo)
The Supreme Court order asking states to appoint in every district a senior police officer who will be responsible for preventing violence in the name of cow protection will have to be complied with by October 13.
States will also have to compensate victims of violence in the name of cow protection.
The court, while proposing measures to stem what it called growing violence by so-called cow protection groups, earlier this month had said the nodal officers would have to ensure that vigilantes do not become a law unto themselves. It had given states a week to comply with the order. The court had also asked states to list steps they would take to step up security on highways, where cow vigilantes have stopped vehicles carrying cattle and attacked people.
Focus on cow protection, especially by vigilante groups, has risen since the BJP-led government took power three years ago, and several states ruled by the party made laws to punish cow slaughter.
So-called cow protectors have targeted cattle and meat traders, transporters and even farmers walking their animals — violence that has killed several people, mostly in BJP-ruled states. Critics accuse the vigilantes of using cows as a pretext to target Muslims and Dalits.
The Supreme Court on Friday said states were under obligation to compensate victims of violence by cow vigilante groups.
Noting that law and order had to be given primacy, it said anyone violating the law must be dealt sternly.
The top court asked states and union territories
to comply with its September 6 order to appoint nodal officer to deal with cow vigilantism by October 31.
The direction came after the Bench was informed that only five states — Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh
— have filed compliance report.
The Bench, however, declined to take up the issue of murder of Junaid on a train in Faridabad allegedly by members of a cow vigilante group, saying individual case should not be clubbed with the larger issue.
Amid rising incidents of cow vigilantism from various parts of the country, the Supreme Court had on September 6 asked states to appoint a senior police officer in every district as a nodal officer to stop violence in the name of cow protection.
“The senior police officer shall take prompt action and will ensure vigilante groups and such people are prosecuted with promptitude,” it had said.
“Steps have to be taken to stop this…. Some kind of planned action is required so that vigilantism does not grow… Efforts have to be made to stop such vigilantism. How they (states) will do it, is their business but this must stop,” the Bench had said on the last date of hearing after senior counsel Indira Jaising
submitted on behalf of petitioner Tushar Gandhi
that there had been 66 incidents of mob lynching and assault since July.
Tushar Gandhi, great- grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, has moved the top court seeking direction to states to check cow vigilantism. Activist Tehseen S Poonawalla too has approached the court on the issue. The nodal officers have to ensure that cow vigilantes did not become a law unto themselves, it had said.
The Bench had also asked the Centre to see what action can be taken against states that fail to check such vigilantism. While maintaining that it did not support violence in the name of cow protection, the Centre has maintained that law and order was a state subject and it did not have any role to play in it.
Cattle traders, transporters and farmers and meat traders have been at the receiving end of cow vigilante groups as many victims, including those in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal
, have been killed.
States were required to list the measures taken to step up security on highways, where cow vigilantes often target cattle traders.