Since Modi came to power, Hindu nationalist mobs have killed dozens in the name of protecting cows
Amid continuing incidents involving cow, a top Indian court has suggested that the mammal species be declared the country’s national animal and its protection be made a fundamental right of Hindus.
Justice Shekhar Yadav of the Allahabad High Court in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday made the observations while denying bail to a man accused of stealing and slaughtering a cow.
He had been charged under the Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, reports Scroll.in, which referred to the Live Law.
However, on August 12, the top Indian court ruled that slaughtering cows in the secrecy of one’s home is not a matter involving public order.
Public order is a condition characterized by the absence of widespread criminal and political violence, such as kidnapping, murder, riots, arson, and intimidation against targeted groups or individuals.
Justice Yadav in the latest ruling also said that protecting cows is not the task of one specific religion, according to Bar and Bench. “Cow is the culture of India and the work of saving the culture is of every citizen living in the country irrespective of religion,” he added.
Yadav said that the right to life took precedence over the right to kill.
“Right to eat beef can never be considered a fundamental right,” he said. “Fundamental right is not only the prerogative of beef eaters, rather, those who worship the cow and are financially dependent on cows, also have the right to lead a meaningful life.”
The judge added that India will prosper only if cows are revered and criticised those in charge of cow shelters. “The government also gets the gaushalas [cow shelters] constructed, but the people who have to take care of the cow do not take care of the cows,” he said, according to Bar and Bench.
The judge described private cow shelters as a sham. “People take donations from the public and help from the government in the name of cow promotion, but spend it for their own interest and do not care of cows,” he claimed.
Yadav also asked the government to frame strict laws against those who speak about harming cows.
The subject of cow protection has frequently figured in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) campaigns ahead of elections. The saffron party has passed laws against cow slaughter in several states.
Since the BJP came to power at the Centre in 2014, there has been a sharp rise in cases of mob violence in the name of cow protection. Vigilantes, sometimes explicitly supported by the party’s leaders, have attacked Muslims for allegedly killings cows or transporting them for slaughter.
The cow politics
In the last decade, the ruling BJP has passed laws based on the belief in the holy status of cows.
These laws protect cattle from being eaten or sold, and uphold the belief in the animal’s divine powers. The government even set up a National Cow Commission for the purpose. At least 20 states have banned beef consumption, or regulate the sale of cows.
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Since Modi came to power, Hindu nationalist mobs have killed dozens in the name of protecting cows. The victims were usually Muslims or other minorities, and the killers often got away with their crimes.
On July 15, authorities in Kashmir were told to ban the religious sacrifice of all animals in the Muslim majority region and threatened action against the offenders just ahead of Eid-ul-Azha.
In mid-August, Assam passed a cattle protection bill, banning the sale of beef within a five-kilometre radius of temples.
On August 30, Uttar Pradesh banned meat in Mathura city, where Lord Krishna is believed to have been born.