Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday used his first-ever townhall to deliver a lacerating statement on "Gau Rakshaks" or cow vigilantes blamed for outrageous incidents like the flogging of four Dalits in Gujarat last month. Most of these people are "anti-social elements hiding behind the mask of Gau Rakshaks", he said.
Breaking his silence on cow vigilantism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said he felt "very angry" at such incidents and has asked state governments to prepare a dossier of people who are "running shops" in the name of cow protection.
"There are some people who are running shops in the name of cow protection. They indulge in anti-social activities in the night and wear the cloak of gau rakshaks (cow protectors) by the day," Prime Minister Modi said speaking at a Town Hall-style meeting here.
"I get so angry at those who are into the Gau-Rakshakbusiness. A Gau-Bhakt (cow devotee) is different; Gau Seva (cow protection) is different. I have seen that some people are into crimes all night and wear the garb of Gau Rakshaks in the day," PM Modi said, answering a question at the interactive session to mark two years of his MyGov initiative.
"I have asked the state governments to prepare a dossier of all such people," he said.
His clear and categorical trashing of gaurakshaks was also meant to be a message to his party and the rest of saffron Parivar that they should denounce gaurakshaks in no uncertain terms and keep them in check. It’s true that BJP leaders had been critical of the Una incident and of gaurakshaks but the condemnation was not strong enough till now.
"If these self proclaimed social servicemen really want to serve cows then they should work towards the direction to ensure that cow didn’t eat plastic.”
The number of cows dying by slaughter is much less than those dying because of eating polythene and plastic. He recounted his experience at an animal husbandry camp in Gujarat, where two buckets of plastic were found in the stomach of a dead cow.
The Town Hall — or Modi's first public interaction of this kind where questions came from different parts of the country through pre-recorded video clips — was meant to give a peep into the thought and action process of his government.
For the most part, this programme looked like an extension of the Modi-government’s two years in power (two years of MyGov digital platform’s existence) programme but the Prime Minister knew that the message he had to give on an issue that gripped the nation's conscience will make media headlines.
His comments come at a time when his government and BJP are facing flak over incidents of violence against Dalits and Muslims by cow vigilantes in various states including Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
On July 11, four dalit youths were beaten up by cow vigilantes at Mota Samadhiyala village in Una taluka of Gir Somnath district when they were allegedly skinning a dead cow.