Mr. Modi is known for doing unconventional things in Indian politics and he has kept his reputation of being unconventional and distinct alive in recent times. In one of such unconventional things, Modi’s town hall style address and interaction with 2000 people who were invited according to their contribution to Mygov.in was in news circles for last few days. Mygov.in is an online forum on which people give suggestions to government on various issues. This platform also hosts several competitions regularly. Such direct communication with citizens is indeed one step ahead in the direction of participatory democracy and bringing more transparency. However, I’ll not be focussing on this in this article, rather I’ll focus on comments of Mr. Modi about an issue which has been the favourite one of Indian media since time immemorial.
Mr Modi was asked about the issue of cow vigilantes in this address yesterday which has again gained momentum after 2014 as per media narrative. Modi denounced these cow vigilantes as anti-social elements who do the work of cow vigilantes in night while assuming the role of goons in day. He went on to say that 60-70% of so called gau rakshaks are fake who only intend to create ruckus in the society. He stressed on being gau sevak than being a gau rakshak. He was furious at the people who are posing themselves as gau rakshaks and disturbing the harmony of the society. He also added that most of the cows die due to eating plastics and gau rakshaks should focus on this aspect rather than indulging in fight. The context of his comment was the recent incident of alleged beating of four dalits in Gujarat by so called gau rakshaks which resulted in anger and anguish among the dalit community in Gujarat. The ingenuity of this incident is highly doubtful but media built the narrative successfully to make PM fall in this trap to make statements which only discourage the people who are the core voters of his party.
The implications of the statement of Modi have multiple dimensions. First of all, he is being factually incorrect here. 60-70% of gau rakshaks are not fake and reality is exactly opposite of it. The very existence of gau rakshaks are only due to the apathy of state towards enforcement of cow protection laws. As authorities and police have given a free run to the cattle smugglers and cow is venerated by Hindus, it becomes the job of Hindu groups to stop the illegal slaughtering of cow. The nexus between cattle smugglers and police run very deep and there have been repeated number of cases when police have registered cases against cow vigilantes instead of registering case against cattle smugglers. The differentiation between gau sevaks and gau rakshaks is not true as being a gau sevak won’t help in combating with illegal cow slaughtering. Everyone who has a cow is essentially a gau sevak but he doesn’t become a gau rakshak as he is not stopping the illegal slaughtering. People from both sets have their own importance and roles but Modi denounced one as goon while praised other as sacred. His argument that most of the cows die due to eating plastic is nothing more than mere product of fiction. Cows indeed die due to eating plastic but it’s the job of municipal corporation to ensure that garbage is being disposed and treated properly. Slaughtering of cows and death of cows due to eating plastic is two separate issues which need separate framework to deal with those. Being a gau sevak as Modi advised, won’t curb illegal slaughtering a bit but that nexus will go unchecked.
Other dimension of his statement implies towards his selective criticism as well as advancements towards secularization. In the last three months, more than 7 people have been killed by cattle smugglers at various places but Modi couldn’t speak a word about the people who lost his lives in this endeavour. Not to forget that they were only doing this because law enforcement authorities are incompetent. Prashant Pujari was beaten to death by very same cattle smugglers but his death didn’t anger Mr. Modi. A cop in Uttar Pradesh was killed by cattle smugglers couple of days ago but this is a non-issue for Modi. Thousands of abattoirs are being run illegally but Modi never asked state to take strict action against those illegal abattoirs. When Modi needed to gather vote in 2014, he was at his rhetoric best in hitting out against Congress for promoting pink revolution. However, once he assumed the power, pink revolution became a non issue as more cows started dieing due to eating plastic in Modi’s worldview.
Another dimension of this statement of Mr. Modi, probably the most important one, is the acceptance of secular and liberal narrative which is propagated by Indian media which is more foreign in its nature than Indian. Indian media has been against every symbol and identity of Hinduism since its beginning. Cows and cow vigilantes have been their favourite targets for many years as it helps them to portray Hindus as followers of some violent cults which indulge itself in the cause of deciding the food choice of people. Babri incident was their favourite one to malign Hindus on the name of cow and the whole intolerance drama being orchestrated by it. Around a couple of week ago, a video from Gujarat became viral in which four Dalits were being beaten by people who claimed to be gau rakshaks. This incident created much anger and anguish among Dalits of Gujarat. Dalits in Gujarat started mass scale protest against it which was supported by self proclaimed Dalit leader Mayawati and other vultures. The media quickly termed it as atrocities against the Dalit by upper caste Hindus and tried to portray Hindu society as violent one which violates human rights. The authenticity of this event was always in doubt but media had made up its mind and kept defaming Hindus and cow vigilantes. It was later found that two culprits were Muslims and the local sarpanch had some links with Congress. A person with basic understanding can infer that no gau raksha group will do something illegal and propagate it to put itself only in danger. It was a manufactured case to divide Hindu society by exploiting its fault lines. The Anandiben Patel government in Gujarat was unable to expose the people involved in this conspiracy and Gujarat kept burning for a week.
Media was creating pressure on the government to accept its narrative that most of the gau rakshaks are the violent ones who go on to beat Muslims and Dalits in the veil of cow protection. For Indian media, gau rakshaks are one of the biggest threat to humanity while every secular violence is peaceful in its own way. We were expecting that Modi won’t accept this distorted narrative of Indian media because in such vast country, anyone can claim to be a gau rakshak to beat others and media will quickly link it with Hindu organizations. But we were wrong in our expectations. Modi accepted the secular narrative of media by speaking in the terms of left liberals. He voluntarily threw himself in the trap laid by Indian media. His statement has provided legitimacy and authority to the claims of Indian media which will make them more lethal towards the gau rakshaks who are risking their lives. This statement of Modi has caused frustration among the people who are genuinely involved in the cause of saving cows. This is a severe blow to their morales.
Modi’s comment about the gau rakshaks shouldn’t be seen in isolation. Modi has been talking in the words of seculars for quite a long time. He praised Islam in the Sufi conference calling it a religion of peace. He stopped his speech during Azan. He kept silence when violent mobs of Muslims ransacked shops, burnt vehicles of BSF, and vandalized public properties in Malda. He went on to confirm the myth of Cheraman Perumal by further helping the agenda of Islamists. He showed his anger towards the incident of petty theft in Church of Delhi which was painted as attack on minorities by Indian media. He talked about Rohith Vemula after succumbing to the media pressure. However, he kept his mouth shut over migration of more than 390 Hindu families from Kairana in Uttar Pradesh. He again showered much praise on Sufism in Iran too without realising the truth or probably ignoring it. He has decided to send an official delegation led by Sushma Swaraj to attend the canonization ceremony of Mother Teresa who was a fraudulent saint converting Hindus in the disguise of charity. The list goes long when we talk about secular deeds of Modi. The issues which are of paramount importance to Hindus are completely absent from his agenda. All these things are indicating that Hindus have been betrayed, yet again. Hindus must look for alternatives because in all the likelihood, Modi will be continuing on secular track of development, appeasing Muslims, Christians and Dalits while Hindus will keep suffering.