Hindu JanaJagruti Samiti, a loose coalition of some Hindutva organization, today sought the immediate withdrawal of charges against Satishkumar Pradhan, who was arrested over the weekend over charges including raping a truck driver.
Pradhan is the head of Gau Raksha Dal (Cow Protection Force), a self-appointed group that tries to prevent people from killing cows. Cows, according to many Hindus in the northern part of India, is like the mother as humans drink its milk, and should not be killed.
According to the truck driver, Pradhan and his fellow gau-rakshaks blocked his multi-axle truck on the highway, took him to a gaushala where they had unnatural sex with him.
Though many states in India have strict laws that ban the slaughter of cattle (including cows, bulls and buffaloes), the ban is not strictly enforced to protect the interest of farmers, who raise these animals for economic, rather than religious reasons.
The Samiti, in a press statement, urged the Modi government to shun ‘modern thinking’ and stand on the side of the cow.
“If the Government adopts the modern thinking that ‘A cow produces milk, but does not cast vote’ and heaps injustice on cow protectors, it will enrage Hindus,” the Samiti warned.
“Therefore, the Government should give due respect to the religious sentiments of Hindus and immediately withdraw the offences registered against Satishkumar Pradhan liberating him forthwith. Similarly, the Government should take firm steps to protect Gomata.”
Punjab is ruled by the BJP-Siromani Akali Dal coalition. Though law and order is not controlled by the central government, Pradhan’s arrest is being seen in the context of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strict warning last week against vigilante violence in the name of the cow.
The warning came after rising incidents of vigilante violence against Hindus and Muslims who deal in the cattle trade. Since many of the Hindus involved in cattle trade belong to the vulnerable sections of the society, the violence has taken on caste and race connotations, and threatens to lead to more widespread agitations.
Dalits, for example, took out massive rallies in Modi’s home state of Gujarat, with some of them committing suicides against the rising violence that target their brethren.
Sending a strong signal to the religious right, Modi said last week that 70-80% of so-called cow protectors are criminals, who use such pretensions as cover for the illegal activities.
The comments came as bitter medicine to many Hindutva right wing organizations, who were hoping that Modi would bring back pre-British culture in India. The comments assuaged rising concerns among OBCs and Dalits about the rise of religious extremist ideology and has lowered the temp of the protests.
This is not the first time that Modi has taken on the religious right. He took strict action against organizations such as Vishva Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) when he was the chief minister of Gujarat.
VHP international working president Pravin Togadia, who also hails from Modi’s home state of Gujarat, has already expressed his consternation at Modi’s comment that most of the cow vigilantes were anti-social elements.
Expressing “utmost dissatisfaction and agony” over Modi’s remarks, he said Modi’s statement was an “insult not only of Mother cow but also of Hindus and all those who gave their lives for protecting cows.”
The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti said instead of the slaughter of cattle declining, it is increasing.
“The statistics display that the export of beef from Bharat to foreign countries has actually increased,” it said.
India is one of the world’s largest exporters of beef, partly because many North Indians do not consume the meat.