Saturday, September 18, 2021

Disturbing trend

The invoking of the National Security Act (NSA) against three men arrested for the alleged cow slaughter in Bulandshahr is a shocking new low in the cow politics that is being pressed into full gear by the BJP and its patronised right-wing mobs in the run up to Lok Sabha polls 2019 despite the multiple dangers that this politics is offsetting. The allegations of dead cows in Bulandshahr last month triggered mob violence in which a civilian and inspector Subodh Kumar Singh were killed. The shocking killing, it was hoped, would have knocked some sense among those sitting at the helm of affairs and make them realise the dangerous portents of the mob frenzy that they have been unleashing in the last four years. The incident was a chilling reminder that anybody who comes in the way of the lynch mobs including the law keepers would be dispensed with and there is enough video footage to elaborate the point. Far from reining in the cow politics, with this latest case of handing over the investigation of cow slaughter to NSA the BJP has demonstrated its penchant for pushing this to the hilt. The party is making a conscious, deliberate and calculated choice. While the killers of the slain cop have been treated with kid gloves and rumours are being peddled and blended with facts to botch up the investigations, the Uttar Pradesh government has gone all hammer and tongs against the minority community members while investigating the charge of cow-slaughter. Fears have been raised by minority community members of possible witch hunting against those being picked up for the alleged cow slaughter. The arrests are not guided by evidence but the presumption that minorities are the culprits. By choosing to conveniently trivialize the killing of humans including a police inspector on duty, and instead using an entire official machinery to project the slain cop as inefficient and corrupt in justification of the cold-blooded murder, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister had already proved his patronage to the lumpen mobs that went on rampage over allegations of cow slaughter. Now with NSA stepping in, even the central BJP government has demonstrated the extent it can go to in patronizing human slaughterers and also persecuting minorities in the name of cow slaughter. The NSA could not have arrived on the scene without the blessings of the central government. The direct inference of such a development is that while murder of cop is being seen casually, the cow slaughter is being equated to an “act of terror”. With such a bizarre logic, the BJP is taking cow politics to a new level that will have multiple ramifications. That this makes India the laughing stock of the world should be the least of worries. The larger worry is the equation of cow slaughter to ‘terrorism’, a term that is considered in public discourse as the highest degree of onslaught on national security. With this new enforced understanding of cow slaughter, the mob lynchings are being justified and their blame being pushed to the door-step of minorities, particularly Muslims, who are seen as not just perpetrators but also terrorists. In a world where hate politics is being fuelled by accelerating Islamophobia, the consequences of such a policy on the secular fabric of the country will be immense. The BJP is unmindful of the dangers it is pushing the country to. It is also not bothered about the economic cost of propelling the cow politics which is destroying the eco-system. While cow protection is being raised to the lofty pedestal of nationalism, no thought has gone into planning for the high number of abandoned cows in the absence of slaughter and beef industry or the tanning and leather industry. The direct economic fallout in terms of closure of cow related businesses and employment avenues apart, the abandoned cows need spaces. In the absence of these, they are hampering the existence of humans in innumerable ways. According to reports, 1.2 crore cows are abandoned on an annual basis in Uttar Pradesh alone. This statistic is revealing enough for the phenomenal mess that is waiting in the wings. Instead of planning for a policy that maintains the socio-economic equilibrium, the fresh move by the BJP signals a much more disturbing trend.