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Too little too late: Modi breaks silence over lynching but his critics are unimpressed

Anurag Dey | Updated on: 29 June 2017, 20:30 IST

Breaking his silence over rising ‘cow terrorism’ across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi denounced cow vigilantism saying that killing people in the name of cow worship was unacceptable.

This happened a day after nationwide spontaneous protests took place against cow vigilantes. It is not clear, however, whether Modi chose to speak because of the spreading anger against lynching of innocent Muslims accused of eating beef or cow slaughter.

It is also uncertain whether his speaking out now will have any impact on the cow vigilantes.

Modi's statements  against cow vigilantes were also tweeted by the PMO India's Twitter handle –

All talk?

“I want to express my pain and displeasure over the country's current scenario. A country which believes in feeding even ants, stray dogs, take pains to feed fish, a country where Mahatma Gandhi taught non-violence, what has happened to that?” Modi asked at the event.

“If a patient dies, family members set afire hospital and attack doctors, if there is an unfortunate death in an accident, a mob gathers and suddenly vehicles are torched. What has happened to us, is this Bapu’s country?”

“When it comes to cow protection, cow worship, no one is above Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave. They have shown the best path to do that and the country has to walk that path. The country’s welfare lies in walking that path. Bhabhe made life long sacrifices for cow protection, continuously fought against the governments. Once I went to see him. While I was sitting beside him, he said 'die…die...' – I was surprised to hear Vinoba ji asking me to die, then softly Vinobaji said – '…for gau, for gaumata',” Modi added defending cow protection but questioning the methods being used.

“The country’s constitution also speaks about its importance but does that gives the right to kill anyone? Is this cow protection, is this cow worship? This can’t be Bapu’s path, Vinoba’s life doesn’t gives us this message,” Modi told the crowd.

Modi’s statements in his home state Gujarat came a day after several cities across the country held demonstrations against mob violence with the hashtag – #NotInMyName.

“Killing people in the name of Gau Bhakti is not acceptable. No person in this nation has the right to take the law in his or her own hands in this country,” Modi said addressing an event in Ahmedabad on Thursday.

Reminding people of Mahatma Gandhi and his principles of non-violence, Modi said – violence “never has and never will solve any problem”.

Modi’s rebuke comes in the backdrop of cow vigilantes running amuck in the country leading to a number of lynchings.

The latest incident is from Jharkhand where a man was nearly lynched and his house set afire by a mob after a carcass of a cow was found near his house in Giridih district.

Also read: Jharkhand again: How a lynch mob almost killed a Muslim

Last week in West Bengal’s North Dinajpur district, three people suspected to be cow smugglers, were lynched while a Muslim teenager was stabbed to death aboard a train near Delhi with his attackers calling him antinational and a beef eater.

Also read: In Junaid's village, anger builds against spate of lynchings and Modi's silence

Mounting figures

According to a study by data journalism portal IndiaSpend, 28 people have been killed in 63 instances of cow related violence across the country, 97% of which occurred after Modi came to power in May 2014.

The study also reveals that a staggering 86% of those killed were Muslims with 2017 being the worst-ever year in term of such violence.

Over half of the 63 incidents between 2010-2017, were reported from the BJP-ruled states including Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

The opposition, which has been questioning Modi’s silence, is unimpressed by his latest assertions.

“His words are too little too late. He ought to have reacted much earlier. It is only to be seen whether his government actually measure up to the words and ensure the killings stops, the violence ends. Until then, it is mere cosmetic,” said Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist called Modi’s delayed response a “criminal negligence”.

“It took the prime minister more than 20 deaths and nationwide protests to finally open his mouth. It is only to be seen if the government backs up his words,” said CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat.

Joining the chorus West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that “just words will not do” and demanded the flurry of attacks on people accused of eating beef or slaughtering cows be stopped immediately.

Even the Janata Dal (United), which appears to be cosying up to its former ally BJP, found Modi’s words to be hollow.

Party general secretary KC Tyagi doubted the ‘so-called’ warning will have any impact on the cow vigilantes. “We have seen how much impact his last warnings had,” Tyagi remarked wryly.

Notwithstanding Modi’s warning, how much the government is likely to act remains to be seen.

The Union Home Ministry recently called the recent lynchings mere law and order issues with no wider ramifications. It refused to seek reports from Haryana and Jharkhand – both BJP ruled states – over the recent incidents of mob violence.

Rationalising its refusal to seek reports from the concerned states, a MHA spokesperson said that a report is sought only “when the incident has wider ramifications or has an internal security angle”.

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

First published: 29 June 2017, 20:30 IST