EDITORIAL | Cow terrorism, backed by State

EDITORIAL | Cow terrorism, backed by State

Samajwadi Party workers take part in a candle light march to pay tribute to police inspector Subodh Singh, who was killed in Monday's mob violence in Bulandshahr, in Allahabad. PTI

When Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tells the state police to find the killers of the cows but is silent on the murder of an inspector by a mob protesting alleged cow slaughter, he sends out a message to the police and the wide world. It is that the government of the day will countenance the murder of people, including policemen, it does not care for the rule of law and that mobs and their violence aren’t serious issues for it. In a village in Bulandshahr district, an officer of the State was murdered by a rampaging mob on Monday. The murdered inspector, Subodh Kumar Singh, was trying to control the mob that had gathered outside the police station with a tractor loaded with carcasses of cows which, it was claimed, were found by villagers in a nearby field. The prime accused in the violence, Yogesh Raj of the Bajrang Dal, is absconding. Police also filed an FIR against the cow slaughter, naming seven Muslims. Those seven were named by the prime accused. Of them, two are 11-year-old boys, who were held in the police station for several hours; four are said to be fake names.  

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The incident raises many questions. The dumping of many carcasses in a single place was unusual and the villagers have said they did not look like slaughter remains. The villagers were ready to bury them but were prevented by some outsiders. The mob that suddenly gathered had many outsiders in it, raising suspicion that the incident may have been pre-planned. Inspector Singh had investigated the murder of Muhammad Akhlaq in Dadri in September 2015. That was the first of a series of vigilante killings in the name of cow slaughter. Singh had arrested the culprits but was transferred before he could complete the probe.

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What the Bulandshahr incident shows is that what started as cow vigilantism — itself unlawful and dastardly — may now be transforming into pre-planned conspiracies just as general elections approach. Warnings and claims of action from authorities, including from the prime minister, have not had any impact on the murderers and lynch mobs, mainly because they were not sincere. Instead, a milieu has been created in which hatred for and harassment of minorities is increasingly considered normal, law and due process have no place, and criminals have impunity. Culprits responsible for these murders are not punished but glorified and rewarded, sometimes by members of the government and the ruling party and its ideological affiliates. UP has become a Hindutva laboratory of hate crimes and experiments in communal conflicts and social strife. The murders in the name of the cow can no longer be called vigilantism. It is cow terrorism, inspired and sponsored by the State. Adityanath’s response is proof of that.