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Rajasthan has failed to rein in cow vigilantes: Human Rights Watch

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has cited Pehlu Khan lynching incident to slam the Centre and Rajasthan for giving a free run to cow vigilantes who are “killing people and terrorising minority communities.”

jaipur Updated: Apr 30, 2017 20:48 IST
Manoj Ahuja
Manoj Ahuja
Hindustan Times
Pehlu Khan,cow vigilantes,HRW
Dairy farmer Pehlu Khan was killed by cow vigilantes in Alwar earlier this month.(HT Photo)

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has cited Pehlu Khan lynching incident to slam the Centre and Rajasthan for giving a free run to cow vigilantes who are “killing people and terrorising minority communities.”

HRW, with headquarters in New York City, is an international non-governmental organisation that conducts research and advocacy on human rights.

Criticising the response of the Rajasthan home minister and the role played by the state police after the fatal assault on Pehlu Khan, HRW has urged the Indian authorities to “promptly investigate and prosecute self-appointed cow protectors who have committed brutal attacks against Muslims and Dalits over rumours that they sold, bought, or killed cows for beef.”

“Self-appointed cow protectors driven by irresponsible populism are killing people and terrorising minority communities,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, HRW South Asia director. “The government should condemn this violence and take prompt action against those responsible for these attacks or face allegations of complicity,” she added.

Mentioning the link between Hindutva groups and the BJP, the report said, “Instead of taking prompt legal action against the vigilantes, many linked to extremist Hindu groups affiliated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the police, too often, have filed complaints against the assault victims, their relatives, and associates under laws banning cow slaughter.”

Citing Pehlu Khan’s lynching, HRW said, “The mild admonitions from BJP leaders when Muslims and Dalits are lynched over cows send a message that the BJP supports this violence.”

“On April 1, 2017, a mob in the northwestern state of Rajasthan brutally assaulted a 55-year-old dairy farmer, Pehlu Khan, and four others with sticks and belts. Khan died two days later from his injuries. Three of the six accused have been arrested. The state’s BJP-led government did not condemn the killing. Rajasthan’s home minister sought to defend the so-called cow protectors by blaming the victims,” HRW stated.

“Instead of filing a complaint against the attackers, the police first registered a complaint against Khan and the other victims under the Rajasthan Bovine Animal Act, 1995, for exporting cattle and showing cruelty to the animals. The police waited two hours before filing a complaint against the unidentified mob,” the rights body said.

“Even as BJP leaders failed to condemn attacks on Muslims and other minorities, they have announced new policies for cow welfare and made strong statements about the need to protect cows. Since May 2015, a violent vigilante campaign against beef consumption has led to the killing of at least 10 Muslims, including a 12-year-old boy, in seven separate incidents of mob violence,” the report stated.

Opposition parties and civil society groups have criticised the Rajasthan government for its response after Pehlu Khan lynching. On April 23, a group of former IAS officers wrote to chief minister Vasundhara Raje, urging her to take action against the people accused of lynching Pehlu Khan. Two days later, the chief minister said, “such incidents will not be tolerated in Rajasthan.” However, the Alwar police is yet to arrest the main accused named in the FIR.

“The Rajasthan government is doing nothing to rein in cow vigilantes. We have announced a nationwide stir on May 3 to demand justice for Pehlu Khan,” said Kavita Srivastava of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).

First Published: Apr 30, 2017 20:48 IST