The Big Picture-The PM on Gau Rakshaks: What’s the Message?
Honorable Prime Minister of India has ultimately raised his voice forcefully on those indulged in cow vigilantism. He has strongly criticized those who are committing heinous crimes in the name of cow protection. Incidents like these have led to serious situations in some parts of the country causing some people to lose their lives as well.
What does the statement mean?
- The Prime Minister through his words has made it clear that there is a difference between cow protection and cow vigilantism. A provision for protection of cattle was incorporated in the Directive Principles of State Policy under Article 48. This entitles the state to preserve and protect cattle. However, this does not mean that a person who is not a member of law enforcement can punish people suspect of anything.
- The law of the land is supreme and it cannot be violated by anyone. Further, it was remarked by the Prime Minister that 70-80% of Gau Rakshaks are anti-social who are taking law into their hands.
- These incidents might hamper the ideology undertaken by our Prime Minister “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas”. Through his strong words, he has reiterated his ideology.
- The State Governments cannot circumvent their responsibilities by blaming the Centre. When such situations arise in a State, they need to enforce and implement strict law and order.
Whether the message has come at the right time?
This message will help in building confidence among the Dalits that Government at the highest level is concerned with what has happened to them is absolutely wrong in the light of recent incidents. However, it has to be understood that the issue of untouchability and other problems among Dalits is metastatic in nature. Most of the atrocities they face on an everyday basis are actually being done by ordinary people. There is a problem of ideology and social code which are being followed since ages in the name of religion.
What can be done in this regard?
- So far, there has been no commitment from a single political party to take caste and untouchability issues for reforms. There is a severe lack of political will to do this.
- There is an urgent need for providing education and economic upliftment of the Dalits in the society.
- Even after laws, if such incidences are happening in various parts of the country, then it is the need of the hour for a drastic change in the system for justice delivery. There have been incidents of burning of houses, lynching and killing in the past as well.
- There have been incidences where truck drivers ferrying cattle across different parts of the country are being threatened for money and beaten up by criminals. Police forces, that should bring vigilantism to book are providing shield for criminals.
- There is a need to change policies and political discourse for a positive change, improve institutions engaged in delivery of social justice and law reforms.
Criticism of the Statement:
- While the Prime Minister has given his piece of mind clearly, many people have argued that he chose to speak only when there was a danger of his silence being misinterpreted as acquiescence. The delay in his response has somewhere encouraged the anti-social elements.
- He has failed to recognize that the horrific incidents connected with cows are wrapped up in communal imaginaries and electoral calculations and is further destroying the bonds of citizenship through cynical development of divisive agendas.
- His remarks are being analyzed in context of reconciling the ideology of Sangh Pariwar with immediate electoral interests in some states.
Whether the message will have the desired effects?
Sentimentally speaking against the issue is not going to solve the problem. What is required here is to understand the fact that these are structural problems of our society about which there is a need to think and recognize diversity (beef eating is a common practice in many parts of India and skinning dead animal has been occupation of Dalits). Ideologically and politically, diversity has to be brought on the table and everyone’s cultural identity has to be respected.