May 08, 2017

India: They said BJP Will Take Care of Old Cows - some took the cue and tied a cow in outhouse of a local BJP leader in Bihar ...

The Telegraph, May 8, 2017

Old cow at doorstep, devotee snorts
- BJP leader files case after Lalu supporter tethers animal outside house
Ramashankar and Amit Bhelari

Patna, May 7: Somebody has actually taken a cow by the horns and tethered it in front of the outhouse of a local BJP leader in Bihar, practising with alacrity what Lalu Prasad had preached a few days ago.

The BJP leader, however, has responded with a court case against Lalu Prasad and his cow-donor supporters, passing up the serendipitous chance to take care of a revered mammal in whose name human beings have been killed and tormented in the country.

The cow caper has landed the BJP on the horns of a dilemma and a policy has been announced - at least for Bihar.

Bihar BJP president Nityanand Rai said that people willing to hand over their cows to party members should approach him with a written undertaking that the donation is being made voluntarily. The cows will then be distributed among party workers.

If the BJP is planning to widen the reach of the yeoman service across the country, the party may be about to bite off more than it can chew. Official statistics put the number of cows in India at 122.9 million in 2012. (According to the Press Information Bureau, the number of cows in 2012 showed an increase of 6.52 per cent over the previous census in 2007. The statement issued in 2014 had another piece of illuminating statistic that suggests the country had grown not only more tolerant of cows, compared with the previous decade, but probably more wise too: the donkey population had shrunk by as much as 27 per cent to 0.32 million.)

With Indian cows unable to lactate beyond eight to 12 years but able to live for 16-18 years, people may find it far easier to deposit old cows at BJP offices rather than try anything else that may invite death by lynching. In such a scenario, the BJP could soon be running the planet's largest bovine geriatric collective.

Lalu Prasad had on Thursday exhorted party workers to tie their aged cows that have stopped giving milk at the doorsteps of Sangh and BJP leaders to test whether they truly loved the gaumata. His call had come in the context of atrocities by cow vigilantes in many parts of the country.

On Friday night, a group allegedly led by state RJD youth vice-president Vidya Kumari Rai and her husband Devendra Rai carried out the instruction at the home of Chandeshwar Kumar Bharti, district vice-president of the BJP Kisan Morcha, the party's farmer wing, in Vaishali.

Bharti filed a petition with the Hajipur civil court in Vaishali on Saturday. Hajipur chief judicial magistrate Vijay Kumar Sinha later transferred the matter to a district court. The additional district and sessions judge in Vaishali district will hear the case, which also includes charges of manhandling and robbery, on May 19.

According to Bharti's petition, a group of 10 to 12 people with close connections to Lalu Prasad arrived at his village, Bishunpur Arara, around 8pm on Friday and tethered the cow inside his compound. Bharti's village is part of Mahua Assembly constituency, represented by Tej Pratap, Lalu Prasad's elder son and a minister in the Nitish Kumar cabinet.

Bharti claims the RJD workers thrashed him when he resisted their attempt and uprooted the bamboo peg to which the cow had been secured. He says the group left the spot when some villagers rushed in, hearing his cries.

Bharti says the intruders threatened him with harm if he freed or sold the cow as the BJP was protesting cow slaughter and claimed to believe in cow protection. He alleges that the group snatched the Rs 2,000 he had in his pocket.

"I was so frightened that the next morning I lodged a complaint in the local court," Bharti told The Telegraph over the phone today.

Bharti, who belongs to the Kushwaha caste, said he didn't inform the police since the RJD was part of the ruling coalition. "Police officers dance to the tune of the ruling party," he said.

Bharti's petition seeks action against Lalu Prasad, Vidya, Devendra, Dev Prasad Yadav, Ashok Kumar Rai and others under penal code sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and 379 (theft). The charges carry maximum jail terms of one year, one month, two years and three years, respectively.

Devendra acknowledged tying the cow at Bharti's doorstep and said he had taken the animal from Dev Prasad, resident of the nearby Hidayatpur village.

"I'm a diehard supporter of Lalu Prasad and simply followed his instructions," he said. "BJP leaders should take care of cows that don't give milk."

Devendra denied the charge of theft. Alluding to the court petition, he said: "We won't budge under their pressure tactics. If they (BJP leaders) refuse to accept these cows, we'll force them to."

RJD spokesperson Ashok Sinha claimed the incident had "exposed the BJP's double standard" on cow protection.

"Senior (BJP) leaders are inviting people to hand over their old cows to their party's workers, but are seeking legal action when they actually do so," he said.

BJP state president Rai said that people willing to hand over their cows to party members should approach him.

"We are more than willing to serve the cows that others don't want. Once such cows are handed over to me, I shall distribute them among our party workers," Rai said.

He said the RJD group from Vaishali should have done the same but added that all those giving their cows away should also provide a written undertaking saying they were donating the animals voluntarily.

"Else, we won't accept the cows because these people might later accuse us of forcibly grabbing the cows," Rai said.

He accused Lalu Prasad of humiliating everyone who rears cows with his exhortation to his party workers.

As for the cow at the centre of the row, no one has seen it since Bharti untethered it on Friday night.