Cow vigilante groups in Uttar Pradesh got an unexpected shot in the arm on Friday when a group of Shia Muslims announced the formation of the Shia Gau Raksha Dal in the state’s capital to spread awareness against eating beef.
The group aims at combating cow slaughter not only in UP but also in other parts of the country. Uttar Pradesh is one of the 22 states in India where cow slaughter is banned.
“Our group will work across India to make efforts to check cow slaughter,” said Shamil Shamsi, president of Shia Gau Raksha Dal and the owner of an eatery specialising in Awadhi cuisines.
Shamsi said that the group already had around 40 members. “But our aim is to rope in at least 10,000 more. This will make the group’s functioning more effective,” he said while announcing the group’s formation on Friday.
This Gau Raksha Dal will function in two phases. In the first phase, members will create awareness drives, especially in Muslim-dominated localities.
“Work under phase one has already started. We are distributing pamphlets and other literature to create awareness on the issue among the masses. We are also using social media to expand our group by roping in more members,” Shamsi said.
He asserted that the initiative was getting a good response on social media. “People from both Hindu and Muslim communities are hailing the concept and expressing willingness to join the group.”
In the second phase, the group members will throw light on those parts of the state that are infamous for cow slaughter. “There are many localities in the state where cow slaughter is still in practice. These places are far from the reach of the district administration and the police. We will be highlighting these places to ensure action against illegal slaughter,” said Shamsi.
Even as Shamsi announced his group of cow protectors, the Supreme Court directed the Centre and six states including Uttar Pradesh to respond within three weeks on a PIL seeking a ban on ‘gau rakshak dals’ which often take the form of lawless groups that have assaulted alleged cow smugglers.