Image of cow vigilantes for representational purpose. (File | EPS)
Image of cow vigilantes for representational purpose. (File | EPS)

Time to go after rogue cow vigilantes with an iron hand

The BJP appears to be warming up to the Muslims for its electoral interests.

When a delegation of Muslim leaders meets the second most powerful person in the land, as it did last week and gushes about the positivity in the talks later, it should symbolise hope. Worried over the recent cycle of communal violence during Ram Navami processions in Bengal and elsewhere, the delegation comprising Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind leaders and All India Muslim Personal Law Board members shared their concerns with Union home minister Amit Shah. Some Muslim intellectuals raised almost the same hot-button topics when they met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in August last year. Yet, nothing on the ground appears to have changed, they recently wrote to Bhagwat disappointedly. There is no kill switch to suddenly shut down hate speech, even if the Hindutva leadership might want to use it.

The BJP appears to be warming up to the Muslims for its electoral interests. It wants to fracture their vote monolith by drawing the Pasmandas, the poor in the community who constitute the vast majority of the population. The delegation that met Shah returned with the impression that he was completely different from his image of a hardliner, as he heard them out, was receptive to ideas and wasn’t in denial about hate speech and sporadic incidents of mob lynching. Shah concurred with their concern about the mushrooming of cow vigilante groups and the need to rein them in. The problem with the Bajrang Dal, floated during the height of the Ayodhya movement, is that it had liberally inducted musclemen and indoctrinated them to bully the minorities. After the Babri demolition, while its leaders like Vinay Katiyar got positions of power, its foot soldiers ended up as loose cannons. Many were expelled from the Bajrang Dal, who later went on to create outfits that were far more radical and became self-styled cow vigilantes.

Impartial policing, with the long arm of the law going after such rogue elements with as much ferocity as it sends bulldozers to the properties of perceived anti-social minorities in BJPruled states, is the need of the hour. Going forward, the Hindutva leadership and Muslims must unequivocally condemn incidents that tear our social fabric apart instead of indulging in selective amnesia. Unfortunately, the one thing both sides seem to agree upon is regressive—blocking same-sex unions. Their canvas of convergence needs to be far wider to smoke out Islamophobia, and nurture communal amity and national integrity.

The New Indian Express