‘Law-abiding good people’: RSS chief backs ‘gau-rakshaks’, differs with Modi
Modi did not distinguish between such vigilantes as he sought to shed the image of being too soft on such violent groups that are often backed by hardline Hindu organisations.india Updated: Oct 11, 2016 21:47 IST
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat praised the government on Tuesday for the recent surgical strikes on militant groups in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK), but appeared to differ with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the role of controversial cow vigilante groups.
Bhagwat said India gave a “befitting message” to Pakistan, which New Delhi accuses of harbouring militant groups, one of which is blamed for attacking an army camp in Uri and killing 19 soldiers last month. He said those triggering unrest in Kashmir had also got a message that there was a limit to tolerance.
“There should be nothing lacking when it comes to securing our borders,” he said at the foundation day of the RSS, the ideological mentor of the BJP.
Reiterating the RSS stand on Kashmir, he said the entire region, including Mirpur, Muzaffarabad and Gilgit-Baltistan in PoK, is an integral part of India.
Addressing swayamsevaks, the organisation’s workers, Bhagwat defended cow-protection groups, saying these “law-abiding good people” perform an important role and they shouldn’t be confused with self-styled, motivated vigilantes.
His comments contrast with Modi’s outbursts against ‘gau-rakshaks’, or cow protectors, in August when he blamed them for flaming tension in society and called for action against them. The PM did not distinguish between such violent vigilantes as he sought to shed the image of being too soft on such groups that are often backed by hardline Hindu organisations.
In recent months, ‘gau-rakshak’ groups have made headlines after being filmed insulting and beating Muslim and Dalit men they accused, often without proof, of slaughtering cows. Such acts of vigilantism are seen by many as a threat to the social and religious stability needed for India’s economic advancement.
Bhagwat said the government should distinguish between anti-social elements and “law-abiding citizens” who were upholding the law — seen as a reference to the fact that cow slaughter is banned in most states in India.
“There are some people who are dedicated to cow protection, it is part of the Directive Principles of State Policy,” he said, referring to a provision in the constitution that calls for the government to make efforts to stop cow slaughter.
“Gau-rakshaks cannot be compared with those undesirable elements who are raking up the issue of cow slaughter or spreading unfounded rumours about slaughter. The latter are busy serving their narrow personal or political ends.”
The foundation day of the RSS coincides with the annual Dussehra event at its headquarters here.
The cow vigilante attacks have stoked anger and upset BJP’s efforts to attract Dalit votes in elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab where the community form an influential size of the electorate.
Apparently referring to flogging of four Dalit men by cow vigilantes in Una in Gujarat and similar incidents of violence elsewhere, Bhagwat said such attacks were shameful and should never happen.
“There are some flaws in our society and there is discrimination as well,” he said, adding these were exploited by certain elements for their benefits.