RA­JASTHAN: THE ‘GAU RAKSHIKA’

India Today - - STATES - By Ro­hit Par­i­har

She wants PM Narendra Modi to de­clare the cow In­dia’s na­tional animal. “He’s a king,” she says, “and like ear­lier kings, he too must en­force a ban on cow slaugh­ter.” Meet Sad­hvi Ka­mal, 39, self-styled pro­tec­tor of cows and “na­tional pres­i­dent of the Rashtriya Mahila Gau Rak­sha Dal”. She has been at the fore­front of those protest­ing the state po­lice’s ac­tion against the goons who lynched Mus­lim cattle trader Pehlu Khan at Behror on April 1.

Sit­ting on the floor of her base­ment home in Jaipur’s Chi­trakoot colony, amid a crowd of re­li­gious idols and cow fig­urines, she apol­o­gises for be­ing late: “I’ve just re­turned from a protest against boot­leg­gers,” she ex­plains. The sad­hvi of­fers no apolo­gies for what was done to Khan. She claims it was when the po­lice failed to act on in­for­ma­tion about “cow smug­gling” that her boys (from the Gau Rak­sha Dal) in­ter­vened.

Fu­ri­ous with the po­lice for ar­rest­ing her men, she ques­tions the ve­rac­ity of Khan’s dy­ing dec­la­ra­tion nam­ing his at­tack­ers. “How could he (Khan) have known their names and sur­names?” she asks. Sad­hvi Ka­mal is ev­i­dently em­bold­ened by the Ra­jasthan gov­ern­ment’s hes­i­tant stand on the is­sue, par­tic­u­larly, home min­is­ter Gu­lab Chand Kataria’s re­fusal to of­fer any as­sur­ance on ac­tion against the cow vig­i­lantes.

In fact, there are many in the state gov­ern­ment who echo Sad­hvi Ka­mal’s ques­tion­able be­liefs. Like MLA Gian Dev Ahuja, who said Khan’s at­tack­ers would find a de­served place in heaven. She her­self equates the as­saults by her fol­low­ers with the na­tion­al­ism of Bha­gat Singh. “If we are able to in­stil a fear among the cow smug­glers, we will suc­ceed in stop­ping it,” she says. Cow vig­i­lan­tism is not new to Sad­hvi Ka­mal. In May 2016, she led scream­ing demon­stra­tions against the ar­rest of young Hindu vig­i­lantes, who had bru­tally thrashed sus­pected cow smug­glers in Prat­ap­garh. The year be­fore, she led an­gry demon­stra­tions to protest the death of hun­dreds of cows at the state gov­ern­ment’s Hin­go­nia cow shel­ter in Jaipur. More re­cently, this March she forced the shut­down of Hy­att Rab­bani, a Mus­lim-owned ho­tel, af­ter al­leg­ing it was serv­ing beef and not ad­her­ing to norms on dis­pos­ing of food waste.

For some­one ad­vo­cat­ing vi­o­lent at­tacks by lynch mobs, Sad­hvi Ka­mal cu­ri­ously claims that Mother Teresa was her first in­spi­ra­tion. “I am a so­cial ac­tivist, I stand for pro­tect­ing all an­i­mals,” she in­sists.

BULLISH Sad­hvi Ka­mal with her favourite cow fig­urines

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