SC issues notice to govt over increase in cow vigilantism
Three days after man is lynched in Rajasthan, court also asks six states to explain hike in such cases
New Delhi: Three days after dairy farmer Pehlu Khan died of injuries after being allegedly beaten up over suspicions that he was smuggling cows, the Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Centre and six states asking them to explain the increased instances of vigilantism in the name of cow protection.
Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Jharkand, Gujarat and Karnataka are the six states that a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and AM Khanwilkar issued the notice to.
The move came on the heels of a petition filed by activist Tehseen Poonawalla, who contended that there were several instances in the recent past in which cow protection groups had taken the law into their own hands and resorted to violence on Dalits, minorities and other people in the “name of protecting cows and other bovine species”.
Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s August 6, 2016 remarks that almost “70-80 per cent” of gau rakshaks were “anti-social elements” who were running “shops” in the name of cow protection, there has been a marked rise in instances of cow vigilantism.
“The menace caused by the socalled cow protection groups is spreading fast to every nook and corner of the country and is creating disharmony among various communities and castes,” Poonawlla contended.
The activist sought for three issues to be addressed — disbandment of the vigilante groups, filtering of social media content uploaded by cow protection groups, and striking down laws or provisions that protected the vigilante groups.
Appearing for Poonawalla, Sen- ior Advocate Sanjay Hegde spoke of 55-year-old Khan’s death as an example of violence being perpetrated over mere suspicion of cow smuggling. Apart from Khan, Mohammed Akhlaq — who was lynched by a mob in UP’s Dadri in September 2015 over suspicions that he had kept beef in his house — also found a mention in the petition.
“The petitioner humbly submits that the state governments provide identification cards to such vigilantes. These vigilante groups in the garb of cow protection enjoy protection from the state government,” the petition read.
Poonawalla also alleged that the rise in cases of vigilantism was only possible due to the complicity of the police and other law enforcement agencies. “Issue a writ of mandamus directing the respondent state governments to take immediate and necessary actions against the cow protection groups indulging in violence,” Poonawalla submitted, saying that the state law enforcement agencies were mute spectators to this phenomenon.
Cows being transported to a slughterhouse