BJP in Bihar owns up cow-vigilantism: When will the central leadership confess?
Nitish Kumar's jump from the Grand Alliance to the BJP-led NDA has done something within a week that a sustained campaign by opposition leaders, critics and activists could not achieve in years. The BJP has admitted that its own members and office bearers indulge in vigilantism in the name of the cow.
On 3 August, a group of men had allegedly assaulted three Muslim men in Bihar’s Bhojpur district, accusing them of carrying beef in a truck. An executive committee member of the state BJP, Bhuwar Ojha, has proudly told the The Indian Express that the assailants were BJP members and had carried out the attack because their “morale” had been “boosted”, now that the BJP was part of the state government.
Ojha's wife Munni Devi, also a BJP leader, has been the Shahpur MLA for three terms. His brother, Visheshwar Ojha, was a BJP vice-president in Bihar and was killed last year.
Ojha said that he and his fellow gau-rakshaks have been “telling police for some time about an illegal slaughterhouse in the Ranisagar area of Shahpur but they would not listen to us”.
Now that his party is part of the state government, Ojha and his accomplices thought it best to take matters into their own hands, much like their fellow gau-rakshaks across the country.
Their modus operandi
The men were tracking a truck that they suspected was transporting beef. They soon intercepted the truck, caught hold of the driver and two other passengers and roughed them up.
The victims, all of them Muslims, were arrested by the police. They also arrested the owner of a slaughterhouse in the region that is said to be running illegally. Samples of meat seized from the truck were also sent for laboratory tests.
The men who carried out the operations on the ground were all local BJP leaders – Chandan Pandey, Ankit Pandey, Rakesh Tiwary and Pankaj Tiwari, and Bajrang Dal activists Nishu Rao, Krishna Kant Singh and Dhoni.
A day after the incident, these men even sat in protest against “police inaction” in cracking the whip on the illegal meat trade in Shahpur. The police were too eager to accept all the help they could get from private citizens in nabbing suspects. No case has been lodged against any member of the raid-squad for taking the law into their hands.
The incidence flies in the face of what the BJP has been claiming ever since the murder of Mohammad Akhlaq in Uttar Pradesh's Dadri in September 2015 – that the people behind these attacks and killings in the name of cow-protection are rogue elements and have nothing to do with the BJP.
Even in the Dadri incident, at least one of the alleged assailants was the son of a BJP leader. Several BJP leaders had, of course, tried to justify the act.
In a large number of such incidents across the country, Bajrang Dal has been found to be directly involved. The Dal is a front of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which in turn is a part of the larger Sangh Parivar that originates from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
The RSS is the BJP's ideological mentor. It is now amply clear that this is targeted violence against Muslims and Dalits and it is being orchestrated by people directly as well as indirectly connected with the BJP.
This also means that the line taken by BJP's central leadership, that it was incumbent upon state governments to take action in these cases, doesn't hold.
It is high time the BJP's central leadership admitted responsibility for these attacks so that the nation could at least be clear about the agenda that is sweeping the nation.