The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to examine rising cow vigilantism across states following a string of recent cases of violence, especially against Dalits and Muslims, by members of bovine-protection groups.
The court was hearing a petition by Congress leader Tehseen Poonawalla that demanded a ban on “gau rakshaks”, who are active in several states -- especially those ruled by the BJP that have strict cow protection laws, ANI reported.
The court asked the Centre and six states to respond by November 7, the next date of hearing, Poonawalla tweeted.
The case is likely to add to a raging debate on cow vigilantes who many say misuse government patronage to target minority groups in the name of religious sentiments. Such cases of violence have also acquired a political flavor with opposition parties saying
Thousands of Dalits across India rose in protest last August after a viral video showing alleged cow protectors thrashing four scheduled caste men in Gujarat’s Una. The incident shook the state government and sparked widespread condemnation of cow vigilantes.
But such incidents are not rare. Last year, a Muslim man – Mohammad Ikhlaq -- was lynched in Uttar Pradesh by a mob over suspicions of cow slaughter. Since then, several such incidents of thrashing – or even murder – of people suspected of carrying bovine flesh have been reported from mainly BJP-ruled states.
The cow is a revered animal in Hinduism and many of the BJP’s core support base consider it holy, demanding a nationwide ban on cow slaughter. Several states, such as Rajasthan and Haryana, have brought in strict cow protection laws.