In giving a clean-chit to self-styled cow vigilantes, the union government has indicated its patronage for the gau rakshaks.
Union Minister Vijay Sampla's statement asking people to "follow the law" if they didn't want gau rakshaks to "cross" their "path" does not serve the public interest.
It, rather, serves the interest of a sinister brand of politics that the right wing has unleashed.
"I want to tell the people from this platform that if we all follow the law, no gau rakshak will cross your path, and everyone will live in peace," Sampla, also the BJP's chief in Punjab, told the Indian Expresson 6 August.
In the last two years, people have been thrashed, paraded, lynched and hanged in the name of the cow and the minister has described it as an innocent "crossing" their path.
What is this if not an endorsement of murder? Isn't thrashing, hanging and lynching as much a crime as cow slaughter? Why then is the minister speaking out only against one kind of crime and not the other?
Couldn't he have instead said that cow slaughter is definitely illegal, but no "gau rakshak" will be allowed to take the law in his or her (remember Mandsaur?) hands?
Couldn't he have given a strong message to all such thugs running amok across the country?
The answer to all these questions is, of course, he couldn't, because neither he nor his party is interested in the maintaining of law and order.
What they are interested in is the rapid spread of their electoral base and they believe they can do it fastest by using the holy cow.
This is why incidents involving these cow-criminals continue unabated, in spite of angry protests.
The tragedy is accentuated by the fact that Sampla belongs to the Dalit community that has decided against silently suffering the flogging incident in Una, which is also an outcome of the right wing's cow-politics.
That the BJP is continuing stubbornly on its cow-agenda in spite of the massive protests that the Una incident has triggered is both an evidence of its short-sightedness as well as its support for criminality.
Gujarat polls will come much later than those in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh and the Dalit backlash is already threatening BJP's prospects in all these states.
Sampla is free to pretend that he believes that none of this will impact the party in his state. The verdict is not too far away, but it will be a monumental tragedy if any more incidents like those in Dadri, Una or Latehar take place again.
Sampla's statement must be remembered and if any more lives or the dignity of individuals is lost in the pursuit of this cow-politics, the onus will be entirely on the BJP's shoulders.
Edited by Jhinuk Sen