RSS, VHP condemn attack on Dalits in Gujarat, say they are against caste bias

  • Smriti Kak Ramachandran, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 21, 2016 15:26 IST
Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel visits a man who was assaulted by members of a self-styled cow protection group recently. (PTI Photo)

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliate, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), condemned on Thursday the attack on four Dalit men by self-styled cow protectors in Gujarat after the incident triggered a wave of nationwide protests.

Both groups are known for their hard-line Hindu stance and have spoken out in the past over strict nationwide cow-protection laws but distanced themselves from the thrashing, saying they were against caste bias.

“The RSS strongly condemns all forms of discriminations, injustice and atrocities in the name of caste,” a statement by the Sangh’s Gujarat unit said.

Read: Dalit attacks muddy the waters for Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel

The ideological parent of the BJP called for harsh punishments for the perpetrators of the attack, saying the incident underlined the need for “chinta” (concern) and “chintan” (reflection).

“RSS strongly condemns all forms of discriminations, injustice and atrocities in the name of caste,” a statement by the Samgh’s Gujarat unit said.

The VHP, which is at the forefront of the cow-protection movement, also condemned the incident.

“Just bcoz the name is ‘Goraksha Dal’ doesn’t mean that they are associated with VHP. Those who implicate VHP in this matter should refrain,” Parishad chief Praveen Togadia tweeted.

This is in sharp contrast to the VHP’s stated position on cow slaughter and beef consumption. The right-wing outfit had been demanding stiff punishment for the family of Mohammed Ikhlaq who was lynched last year on suspicions that he had slaughtered a cow and consumed its meat.

Read: Oppn protests attack on Dalits, Sonia says govt ‘condones social terror’

Experts say the Hindu groups may have been forced to backtrack because the BJP fears losing the Dalit vote ahead of the crucial Uttar Pradesh elections.

VHP’s international joint general secretary Surendra Jain had told HT earlier that if government’s fail to protect cows, it will be incumbent on people to do the needful, a statement seen by many as promoting cow-protection vigilante groups.

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