PM takes on Gau Rakshaks

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the central government has sent a strong advisory to all states to ensure strict action against communal violence in the name of cow protection and sought the support of all political parties on this issue.

In an unusually lengthy intervention at a meeting of all political parties ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament, the PM also sought their support for measures to combat corruption and said the issue must not be viewed in political terms.

Opposition leaders were struck by Modi's outreach as he spoke for close to 25 minutes, a departure from his usual practice of making a few brief comments.

Even after the meeting concluded, the PM went around the back benches and greeted party leaders.

The PM has condemned cow vigilantism in the past too, most recently on June 29 at a speech in Ahmedabad where he invoked Mahatma Gandhi in opposing violence, but on Sunday he further sharpened his reference by referring to “communal violence“ in the name of gau raksha.

“PM urged all parties to extend support to the government in fighting corruption and the issue of communal violence in the name of cow protection. The PM said state governments must ensure maintenance of law and order and strict action must be taken against those who break the law,“ said an official release.

His remarks reflect the top BJP leadership's concern over extreme and fringe right-wing elements reading the emphasis of various BJP state governments on cow protection as a carte blanche to indulge in private policing and violence against cow traffickers.

The targets of these attacks have often been Muslims and on occasion Dalits, leading to cases of mob lynching. Most recently a Muslim BJP worker was beaten up for carrying beef in Nagpur.

The PM's categorical condemnation of violence in the name of cow protection makes it clear that he is keen to draw a firm line on the issue, despite some saffron organisations seeing cow protection in the light of cattle-smuggling and as a religious taboo. The action against cow vigilantism is, however, not likely to imply any dilution of efforts to ban illegal slaughter that was a major BJP plank in the UP polls. Modi also asserted that all political parties should stand united to ensure national security in the light of concerns raised by opposition leaders with regard to China's intrusion on Bhutanese territory near the Sikkim-Tibet-Bhutan tri-junction and the attack on Amarnath pilgrims that resulted in the death of eight persons.

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