May 15, 2017

India: Adityanath must deal with the menace of cow vigilantism in Uttar Pradesh (editorial, The Times of India

The Times of India - May 15, 2017


Vigilantes again: It is time for CM Adityanath to decisively end this menace in UP

Cow vigilantes beat up six people for allegedly slaughtering a buffalo in Agra last week. And as is their wont the police appear to have been complicit in this case as well, booking the victims while letting the perpetrators go. Such complicity only ensures that violence by gau rakshaks spreads. And it is part of a larger trend of fringe elements taking the law into their own hands. In another incident, 10 Muslim families fled their village in western UP’s Sambhal district after a Muslim man ‘eloped’ with a Hindu woman and Muslim villagers were subsequently attacked by mobs even as police allegedly stood down, again.
These incidents threaten to derail chief minister Adityanath’s ‘tough’ image as someone who can uphold the rule of law. Moreover, the law itself needs to be reasonable rather than draconian. The crackdown on cattle slaughter in UP is akin to prohibition in neighbouring Bihar. In both cases governments are determined to implement their agendas without considering their economic fallout or even feasibility. According to experts, it costs almost Rs 60 per day for upkeep of one head of cattle after it stops giving milk. This cost would break the back of the poor farmer, or even of the state exchequer if the latter assumes this cost.
The response of the Allahabad high court – which observed last week that people have a right to adequate means of livelihood and choice of food and asked the government to issue new licences to slaughterhouses – is therefore the only reasonable one. To prevent cruelty to animals, Adityanath should regulate slaughterhouses so that they modernise their techniques and employ painless methods of slaughter. Alongside Adityanath must deal with the menace of cow vigilantism now, before it’s too late and religious strife breaks out.