RSS seeks ‘cow pilgrimage’ site in Uttarakhand
If the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has its way, the hill state of Uttarakhand may soon get a cow pilgrimage centre.
Top RSS functionaries met chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on Wednesday and suggested that the village of Katarpur in Haridwar district be developed into a cow pilgrimage site since it was where several Hindus laid down their lives in 1918 to stop the killing of a cow.
“Many Hindus of this village were killed by Muslims and the British during a protest against the attempt to kill a cow in 1918. Four Hindus were hanged and 135 others jailed during the protest,” Dinesh Semwal, the RSS zonal head, said in a statement after the meeting with the chief minister.
RSS general secretaries Dattatreya Hosabale, Gopal Kishan and the national general secretary of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Ram Lal, were present at the meeting that also had Uttarakhand tourism minister minister Satpal Maharaj in attendance.
Katarpur, 70 km from state capital Dehradun, already has a ‘Gau Rakshak memorial’ where an annual function is organised to pay tributes to those who laid down their lives to protect the cow. The villagers have also been demanding that those who died be declared “freedom fighters’.
“It is a holy site for us. We have been demanding freedom fighter status for the four martyrs for long,” said local villager Rajendra Chauhan.
Uttarakhand is famous for the Char Dham Yatra - the four Hindu pilgrimages to Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.
Local BJP legislator Swami Yatishwaranand told HT that the state government was keen to implement the RSS suggestion and declare Katarpur a cow pilgrimage site. Rekha Arya, the state’s minister of state for animal husbandary said the government definitely endorsed the idea of having a pilgrim spot focusing on cows.
Considered holy by Hindus, cows have become an emotive issue in particularly BJP-ruled states of the country with vigilantes targeting those engaged in their trade and slaughter. Several states have also brought in new measures to protect cows, including the introduction of cess to develop cow shelters. However, reports of the bovines dying of hunger in cow shelters continue to pour in amid the frenzy.
(With inputs from Anupam Trivedi in Dehradun)