Cow vigilantism spikes in Modi’s regime

According to an IndiaSpend analysis, 2016 was the worst year for cow-terror attacks since 2010, but 2017 is on track to ranking higher.

Published: 02nd July 2017 04:19 PM  |   Last Updated: 02nd July 2017 04:19 PM   |  A+A-

Cow. | EPS

By Express News Service

Muslims were the target of 51 per cent of violence centred on bovine issues between 2010 to 2017 and comprised 86% of 28 Indians killed in 63 incidents, according to an IndiaSpend content analysis of the English media. As many as 124 people were also injured in these attacks.

As many of 97 per cent of these attacks were reported after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came to power in May 2014, and about half the cow-related violence was from states governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) when the attacks were reported, revealed an analysis of violence recorded until June 25, 2017.

National or state crime data does not distinguish general violence from cow-related attacks and lynchings; and the IndiaSpend database is the first such statistical perspective to a growing national debate over such violence.

In the first six months of 2017, 20 cow-terror attacks were reported— more than 75 per cent of the 2016 figure, which was the worst year for such violence since 2010.

The attacks, sometimes collectively referred to as gautankwad — a portmanteau of the Hindi words for cow and terrorism on social media include mob lynchings by vigilantes, murder and attempt to murder, harassment, assault and gang-rape. In two attacks, the victims/survivors were chained, stripped and beaten, while in two others, the victims were hanged.

While 32 of 63 cases were from states governed by the BJP at the time; eight were run by the Congress, and the rest by other parties, including the Samajwadi Party (Uttar Pradesh), People’s Democratic Party (Jammu & Kashmir) and Aam Aadmi Party (New Delhi).

Police officers and onlookers were injured in eight per cent (5) of the attacks; and 27 per cent of those targeted were women. The searches were carried out in English media, but a quick assessment showed Hindi media also reported the same incidents.

Of the 63 attacks over eight years, 61 (96.8 per cent) occurred after Modi’s government came to power (2014-2017), with the year 2016 reporting the most attacks: 25.  In the first six months of 2017, 20 attacks were reported— more than 75 per cent than 2016. In 23 attacks, the attackers were mobs or groups of people who belonged to Hindu groups, such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and local Gau Rakshak Samitis.

In January 2016, Maharashtra amended its 2015 beef ban law–banning people from possessing the meat of cows, bulls and bullocks, slaughtered within or outside the state. However, serving beef in restaurants across the state was allowed. Two cow-terrorism attacks were reported from the state, India’s richest by gross domestic product, in 2017.

On May 30, 2017, a PhD scholar in the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, was at one of the vegetarian messes on campus, when he was attacked–allegedly for eating beef. While an FIR was lodged against the attacker, the scholar was also booked on a complaint by  the attacker.

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