Dairy farmer Pehlu Khan is the latest casualty of cow vigilantism. Last week, the elderly dairy farmer was on his way back from Jaipur after purchasing cow when he was beaten up so brutally by an Alwar mob that he could not survive the injuries.
Alwar lynching evoked strong reactions. The Supreme Court has issued notice to Rajasthan and Gujarat, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Karnataka as well as the Centre on a petition asking for a ban on vigilante groups. The SC issued notice on the petition of Congress member Tehseen Poonawala who had asked for a ban on vigilante groups last year stating that attacks on Dalits and minorities was being done in the name of cow protection.
Ruckus continued in the Rajya Sabha on Apr 7 with the Opposition demanding an apology from Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who the previous day claimed "no incident" had happened in Alwar. The opposition demanded an apology from Naqvi, accusing him of trivializing the deadly attack on a Muslim man by a group of cow vigilantes last week.
Is Alwar lynching similar to Dadri lynching? Is Pehlu Khan another Akhlaq? Are cow vigilantes back? Is it state sponsored vigilant in Modi’s India? Anju Grover spoke to CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP Tapan Kumar Sen to get answers to these questions.
IC: What is your reaction to brutal killing of Pehlu Khan by cow vigilantes?
Tapan Kumar Sen: This particular incident cannot be seen in isolation. After Narendra Modi government came into power, a trend has already developed for such incidents. This government is trying to establish Hindutva ideology over governance through religious polarization. It is violating basic propriety of governance.
The government maintained that there is no permission to carry cow to other places in Alwar. If that was the case then police should have taken action and not these vigilant forces who brazenly took law into their own hands? Had the police stopped them or taken them into custody, it would have been fine. A gang of ‘criminals’, who are policing people beyond their jurisdiction, have been let loose in the society. The governance under the constitutional provisions is being sidelined completely. A ‘rogue gang’ will dominate the society.
It is not just Alwar incident. There were Akhlaq incident, Latehar incident and two more incidents happened in Rajasthan before it. Who are these vigilantes intimidating people in UP in the name of anti-Romeo drive? It is nothing but policing by rogue elements dominating the governance. It is an anarchy being created in the society by RSS. Their agenda is to sideline constitutional governance.
IC: As you said that Alwar incident cannot be seen in isolation, what would be the objective behind it?
To win 2019 elections, definitely. They are utilizing such incidents to polarize the society on religion basis and instil a sense of insecurity among the people. All taken together is an authoritarian fascistic trend with the patronization of the government and administration which is dangerous for our democracy. If I do not have freedom to eat, wear, converse, marry, if I am not allowed to have personal freedom, then what kind of situation will emerge?
IC: What do you have to say about Naqvi’s statement that no such incident happened?
Why should you be surprised? It is obvious that the government will be in denial mode. Rajasthan in particular is their laboratory. They have to be in denial mode.
IC: According to Congress, Naqvi’s statement about the incident showed that the minister was not aware of developments in Alwar. Also, that the intelligence agencies were not doing their job properly. Your comments.
It is not a matter of intelligence. It also is not true that the minister was not aware of the developments. The incident was reported by the national dailies. So the question of weak intelligence does not arise at all.
IC: Pehlu Khan’s murder is a reminder of Dadri Lynching? Is Pehlu Khan another Akhlaq?
It is another Akhlaq. It is another Latehar. Similar incident have taken place in Rajasthan. People may not have died but they were harassed, beaten and intimidated.
IC: What do you make out of incidents like cow vigilante killing Pehlu Khan and Dadri lynching?
This is part of programme of RSS and BJP to go in for Hindu Rashtra.
IC: What will be your strategy to counter them?
We will counter it in Parliament and outside through mass struggle. We will mobilize people against such actions. Soon after the closure of illegal slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh, left parties and democratic forces met the district magistrate in Noida demanding that rule of the law should prevail.
IC: What will be your strategy to deal with this issue?
We have been raising this issue and will continue to do so. We believe that the manner in which Modi government has been trying to put the whole country on sale through hectic privatization, crushing democratic system and ignoring Parliament, encouraging cow vigilantism and aggressively suppressing freedom of expression, all these issues are linked. These are part of our composite agenda to fight against.
IC: Will you invite other parties to be part of it?
On common issues, we may join hands with other political parties. We will be fighting on the streets because in Parliament, we are less in numbers. So nothing much can be done in Parliament. Practically, our main fight will be on the streets. Parliamentary intervention will supplement the fight on the streets. By mobilizing people against this kind of nuisance, uncivilized barbarism which will be our main struggle and Parliament will supplement .(Published on 10th April 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 15)#