SC asks states to appoint cops in each district to prevent cow vigilantism
Focus on cow protection has risen since the BJP-led government took power three years ago, and several states ruled by the party made laws to punish cow slaughter.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked states to appoint in every district a senior police officer whose job will be to stop violence in the name of cow protection.
Proposing measures to stem what it called growing violence by so-called cow protection groups, the court said the nodal officers would have to ensure that vigilantes did not become a law unto themselves. States have a week to comply with the court’s order.
Focus on cow protection, especially by vigilante groups, has risen since the BJP-led government took power three years ago, and several states ruled by the party made laws to punish cow slaughter.
So-called cow protectors have targeted cattle and meat traders, transporters and even farmers walking their animals -- violence that has killed several people, mostly in BJP-ruled states. Critics accuse the vigilantes of using cows as a pretext to target Muslim and Dalits.
The court said states must stop this.
“The senior police officer shall take prompt action and will ensure vigilante groups and such people are prosecuted with promptitude,” a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Deepak Mishra said.
It said states would have to list steps they will take to step up security on highways, where cow vigilantes have stopped vehicles carrying cattle and attacked people. It also asked the central government to explore what actions it can take against the states that fail to prevent such attacks.
Advocate Tushar Mehta, appearing for four BJP-ruled states, tried to persuade the court not to issue the order but was overruled.
The top court was responding to a private petition from Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, which sought action by states to curb cow-related attacks.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Gandhi, cited 66 alleged incidents of mob lynching and assaults since July. The latest was just last month when villagers in West Bengal, one of the few to permit cow slaughter, stopped a cattle-carrying truck, dragged out its two Muslims occupants and beat them to death.
Responding to Jaising, the court said, “Steps have to be taken to stop this…. Some kind of planned action is required so that vigilantism does not grow.
“Efforts have to be made to stop such vigilantism. How they (states) will do it, is their business but this must stop.”
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