Now, RSS affiliate wants ministry in Modi govt for welfare of cows
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s cow protection wing appears to be bearing down on the Centre to create a separate ministry for bovine welfare, urging the government to set a deadline for it.
The renewed push by the Bharatiya Govansh Rakshan Samvardhan Parishad was aimed at reminding the Narendra Modi government of its poll promise to save the country’s bovine progeny, considered sacred by Hindus.
The VHP is affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) -- considered the ideological fountainhead of the BJP -- which too has been championing the cause of cow protection.
Beef consumption has become a controversial issue in the country after fringe groups and self-styled protection groups started targeting people they accuse of slaughtering cow.
Several BJP-ruled states have enacted stringent legislations to stop cow slaughter and beef consumption, which activists and opposition political parties say discriminates against Muslims, Christians and lower-caste Hindus who rely on the cheap meat for protein.
A senior functionary of the cow protection organisation told HT that creation of a separate ministry was essential to ensure a total ban on cow slaughter, beef consumption and protection of Indian breeds, some of which face the threat of extinction.
He said the ministry can be on the lines of the separate department raised to rejuvenate the Ganga, considered the lifeline for millions of people in northern India.
The issue of cow protection will be raised during the monsoon session of Parliament, he said, adding that MPs are being approached to lend their voice to the cause. A similar exercise was launched last year without much success.
Another functionary, HS Savla, stressed the “scientifically proved health and environment benefits of rearing cows” and said there was a misconception that Indian breeds do not produce milk in quantities comparable to foreign ones like the Jersey or the Swiss cows.
“Indian breeds such as Gir, Sahiwal are far superior.”
A senior RSS functionary said contemporary problems of global warming, drought and declining food production can be mitigated by encouraging bovine rearing.
“India should aspire to be number one in milk production and exports, instead of meat. There are numerous scientific studies that prove the advantages of not consuming beef,” he said.
The push for cow protection comes in the wake of forensic tests confirming that beef was found in the house of Mohamad Ikhlaq, a Muslim man lynched by a mob in Dadri last year for allegedly slaughtering a calf and consuming its meat.
With right-wing groups demanding a criminal case against Ikhlaq’s family for alleged cow slaughter, the issue is likely to dominate Uttar Pradesh’s political landscape in the run up to the assembly polls early next year.
The killing of Ikhlaq had sparked a nationwide debate on growing religious intolerance under the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre. Critics often accuse the Modi government of not doing enough to rein in fringe groups targeting cattle traders across the country.
In March, two Muslim cattle-traders including a minor were hanged from a tree in Jharkhand. One among the five arrested over the incident is a member of a cow protection group.