Two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi castigated cow vigilante groups calling them “anti-social” elements, the Union home ministry invoked Mahatma Gandhi’s remarks about cow protection and directive principles of state policy to exhort all states and union territories to act against ‘miscreants’ who create law and order disturbances in the ‘name of protection of cows’.
In an advisory issued on Tuesday, the home ministry said that slaughter of cows is in violation of law and is an offence in states where it is prohibited. “But that does not mean any individual or group of persons can take law into their hands to prevent the alleged slaughter or punish the alleged wrong doers,” said the Centre’s advisory.
In an apparent reference to the flogging of four Dalits for skinning dead cows in a Gujarat village, Una, last month, the home ministry advisory said that recently some incidents were reported where certain persons or groups took law into their own hands “in the name of protecting cows” and “committed crimes in pursuance thereof”.
“This is not an acceptable situation. The states are, therefore, enjoined upon, and expected, to ensure that any person who takes the law into his/her own hands is dealt with promptly, and punished as per law. There should be no tolerance at all for such persons and the full majesty of law must come to bear on them, without exception,” said the advisory.
It said that historically, “cattle have special, respected and venerated status” and quoted the Father of the Nation’s remarks: “Cow protection to me is not mere protection of the cow. It means protection of that [which] lives, is helpless and weak in the world.“ The ministry also referred to the Directive Principles of State Policy providing for the preservation of cows.
The advisory quoted Article 48 of the Constitution which says the “State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.”
The ministry said preservation, protection and improvement of stock is responsibility of states as per the Constitution.