Nobody can kill in the name of cow: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose the ashram of the apostle of non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi, to issue a stern warning against killing in the name of cow protection and the growing culture of violence in society at large.

“Nobody can kill in the name of cow. Whether anybody is guilty or not, law will take its own course. No person is allowed to take the law in his hands,“ Modi said in his address at Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. “Indulging in violence in the name of `gau bhakti' is totally against the ideals of the father of the nation,“ he added. Modi's warning came in the wake of growing cases of mob violence in the name of `gau raksha'', as well as criticism of his government and the BJP for their alleged insensitivity and indifference towards victims. In fact, on Wednesday, nationwide protests were held after a social media campaign, “Not In My Name“, was launched condemning the lynching of Junaid Khan of Ballabhgarh in Haryana by a mob which accused him of being a “beef-eater“. However, even as he came down hard on cow vigilantes, PM Modi acknowledged and deferred to the special status the cow enjoys in India. He narrated an experience from his early days when he saw a neighbourhood cow give up food and water after it was overcome with grief for accidentally tramping upon a child, the only son of his parents, during a stampede. The animal died a few days later, Modi said. His voice choked with emotion and he fought back tears as he detailed the compassion of the cow, which he referred to as “gai maiya“.

Modi drew a distinction between cow vigilantes and “gau bhakts“ like Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave who, he said, had asked him to devote his life to “gai maiya“.“Nobody would have cared more for cow protection than Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave. We must walk the path shown by them, only in that lies our well-being. Vinobaji had dedicated his life to cow worship and protection. I had the opportunity to meet him once at Wardha where he told me to die for “gai maiya“.

“Today , I want to express my sadness and pain when I am here at Sabarmati Ashram. This is the country which has a tradition of giving food to ants, street dogs and fish. This is the country where Mahatma Gandhi taught us the lesson of non-violence. What has happened to us?“ he said.

This is the fourth time Modi has spoken against cow vigilantism since September 2016 after the killing of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri in UP for allegedly slaughtering a cow. His interventions have failed to deter the vigilantes.

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