At town hall event, PM Modi says self-styled cow protectors make him angry
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that people who have set up shop in the name of ‘gau raksha (cow protection)’ make him very angry.
Modi’s remarks at a town hall-style event in New Delhi are his first on a raging controversy over attacks against Muslims and Dalits on suspicion of slaughtering cows or smuggling beef -- banned in several Indian states. Cows are revered animals for Hindus.
“People who have set up shop in the name of gau raksha make me very angry,” Modi said in his interaction with citizens at the Indira Gandhi Stadium Complex to mark the second anniversary of his government’s MyGov initiative.
“I have seen some people who do anti-social activities at night and don the garb of cow protectors in the morning. The states should prepare dossiers of such cow protectors...70-80% will be those who indulge in anti-social activities and try to hide their sins by pretending to be cow protectors,” Modi said.
“People who want to do social service should first make cows stop eating plastic and waste,” he said, and added that in many cases “cows die because of eating plastic”.
Modi also spoke on a range of issues including good governance. He said blaming the Prime Minister for everything maybe good for politics or television ratings but was harmful for fixing accountability.
The incident triggered a wave of protests, cornering Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in his home state ahead of next year’s state elections. Muslims, who have been attacked by cow vigilantes in the past, joined Dalits in a demonstration.
The ruling BJP picked a new chief minister on Friday after incumbent Anandiben Patel offered to resign in the face of a string of protests.
In September last year, a 55-year-old Muslim man was lynched and his son seriously injured by a mob over allegations of cow slaughter at Bisada village in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri, sparking a nationwide debate on religious intolerance in the BJP rule.
Opposition parties have criticised Modi for not speaking out against attacks buy self-styled cow protectors and say that his silence was encouraging fringe groups to take the law into their own hands.
Few hours after the event, the Prime Minister tweeted on the issue: “The sacred practice of cow worship & the compassion of Gau Seva can’t be misused by some miscreants posing as Gau Rakshaks .”
“There is absolutely no need for anyone to take the law in his or her hands & disturb the spirit of harmony & togetherness.”
But the opposition Congress party said Modi’s comments against cow protection vigilantes lacked conviction.
“The PM is angry but when will these shops be closed? Need action not just words,” the party’s chief spokesperson, Randeep Singh Surjewala, said.
Soon after Modi’s remarks condemning cow vigilantism, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan posted on Twitter that a “few people are indulging in anti social activities under garb of Gau Rakshaks (sic)”.
“Protection of cows is an integral part of our culture. A true gaurakshak will never resort to unlawful activities. This is the truth,” the BJP leader said.
Two Muslim women were thrashed by cow protectors in Madhya Pradesh recently on the suspicion of transporting beef. The meat was later found to be that of buffalo.