Skip to main content

44 cow-related deaths: US-based rights body blames BJP rulers for violence, cover-ups

Counterview Desk
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), in detailed report, "India: Vigilante ‘Cow Protection’ Groups Attack Minorities", has blamed for BJP for increasingly using communal rhetoric since it came to power in May 2014, spurring a violent vigilante campaign against beef consumption and those deemed linked to it.
The result was, it says, "Between May 2015 and December 2018, at least 44 people -- 36 of them Muslims -- were killed across 12 Indian states. Over that same period, around 280 people were injured in over 100 different incidents across 20 states."
Based on HRW field research conducted from June 2018 to January 2019 to examine the government’s response to attacks over “cow protection”, it interviewed more than 35 witnesses and family members of victims killed by so-called cow vigilantes, two dozen lawyers, civil society activists representing families of victims, journalists who have reported on these crimes, and 10 serving and retired government and police officials.
The report regrets, HRW sent letters summarizing findings to the chief secretaries and the police chiefs of the state governments of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Jharkhand, which were it's focus states, but it did not receive any response.

Excerpts from HRW note on the report:

The Indian government should prevent and prosecute mob violence by vigilante groups targeting minorities in the name of so-called cow protection, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Tuesday.
The 104-page report, “Violent Cow Protection in India: Vigilante Groups Attack Minorities,” describes the use of communal rhetoric by members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to spur a violent vigilante campaign against consumption of beef and those engaged in the cattle trade. Between May 2015 and December 2018, at least 44 people – including 36 Muslims – were killed in such attacks. Police often stalled prosecutions of the attackers, while several BJP politicians publicly justified the attacks.
“Calls for cow protection may have started out as a way to attract Hindu votes, but it has transformed into a free pass for mobs to violently attack and kill minority group members,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Indian authorities should stop egging on or justifying these attacks, blaming victims, or protecting the culprits.”
The report details 11 cases that resulted in the deaths of 14 people, and the government response, in four Indian states – Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Jharkhand – selected because of their large numbers of reported mob attacks.
In one case in 2016, a vigilante group beat to death a Muslim cattle trader and a 12-year-old boy traveling to an animal fair in Jharkhand. Their badly bruised bodies were found hanging from a tree with their hands tied behind them. The boy’s father witnessed the attack, hiding in some bushes: “If I stepped out, they would have killed me, too. My son was screaming for help, but I was so scared that I hid.”
Many Hindus consider cows sacred and most Indian states ban slaughtering cows. But in recent years, several BJP-ruled states have adopted stricter laws and policies that disproportionately harm minority communities. In February 2019, the government announced a national commission for cow protection.
These policies and the vigilante attacks have disrupted India’s cattle trade and the rural agricultural economy, as well as leather and meat export industries that are linked to farming and dairy sectors, Human Rights Watch said. The attacks, often by groups claiming links to militant outfits linked to the BJP, largely target Muslim, Dalit (formerly known as “untouchables”), or Adivasi (indigenous) communities.
The inadequate response from the authorities to these attacks is hurting communities, including Hindus, whose livelihoods are linked to livestock, including farmers, herders, cattle transporters, meat traders, and leather workers, Human Rights Watch said.
In almost all of the cases documented, the police initially stalled investigations, ignored procedures, or were even complicit in the killings and cover-ups. “Police face political pressure to sympathize with cow protectors and do a weak investigation and let them go free,” said a retired senior police officer in Rajasthan. “These vigilantes get political shelter and help.”
In several cases, political leaders of Hindu nationalist groups, including elected BJP officials, defended the assaults. In December, an angry mob set fire to a police station and burned several vehicles in Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh after villagers found some animal carcasses that they said came from slaughtered cows.
Two people, including a police officer who confronted the mob, were killed. Instead of condemning the violence, the chief minister described the incident as an “accident,” and then warned that, “Illegal slaughtering, and not just cow slaughter, is banned in the entire state.”
A senior police official said investigators were determined to prosecute those involved in slaughtering cows. “The cow-killers are our top priority,” he said. “The murder and rioting case is on the back burner for now.”
In a number of cases, police have filed complaints against victims’ family members and associates under laws banning cow slaughter, leaving witnesses and families afraid to pursue justice. In some cases, witnesses turned hostile because of intimidation both by the authorities and the accused. The authorities have even used the National Security Act – a repressive law that permits detention without charge for up to a year – against those suspected of illegally slaughtering cows.
In July 2018, India’s Supreme Court issued a series of directives for “preventive, remedial, and punitive” measures to address “lynching” – the term used in India for killing by a mob. The court ordered all state governments to designate a senior police officer in every district to prevent mob violence and ensure that the police act promptly against the attackers and safeguard victims and witnesses.
The court recommended creating a victim compensation system and said all such cases should be tried in fast-track courts. The court also said action should be taken against any police or government officials who fail to comply with these directives. While several states have designated officers and issued circulars to police officials on addressing mob violence, they have yet to comply with most of the court’s other directives.
India is party to core international human rights law treaties that prohibit discrimination based on race, ethnicity, or religion, and require the governments to provide residents with equal protection of the law. The Indian government is obligated to protect religious and other minority populations and to fully and fairly prosecute those responsible for discrimination and violence against them.
India’s national and state governments should take immediate steps to enforce the Supreme Court directives, Human Rights Watch said. The authorities should ensure proper investigations to identify and prosecute attackers regardless of their political connections and initiate a public campaign to end communal attacks on Muslims, Dalits, and other minorities.
The authorities also should reverse policies that harm livestock-linked livelihoods, particularly in rural communities, and hold to account police and other institutions that fail to uphold rights because of caste or religious prejudice.
“Indian police investigations into mob attacks are almost as likely to accuse the minority victims of a crime as they are to pursue vigilantes with government connections,” Ganguly said. “State and national officials should be following the Supreme Court’s directives against mob killings instead of disregarding their human rights obligations.”
---
Download full report HERE 

Comments

TRENDING

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

Stagnating wages since 2014-15: Economists explain Modi legacy for informal workers

By Our Representative  Real wages have barely risen in India since 2014-15, despite rapid GDP growth. The country’s social security system has also stagnated in this period. The lives of informal workers remain extremely precarious, especially in states like Jharkhand where casual employment is the main source of livelihood for millions. These are some of the findings presented by economists Jean Drèze and Reetika Khera at a press conference convened by the Loktantra Bachao 2024 campaign. 

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Joblessness, saffronisation, corporatisation of education: BJP 'squarely responsible'

Counterview Desk  In an open appeal to youth and students across India, several student and youth organizations from across India have said that the ruling party is squarely accountable for the issues concerning the students and the youth, including expensive education and extensive joblessness.

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Following the 3000-year old Pharaoh legacy? Poll-eve Surya tilak on Ram Lalla statue

By Sukla Sen  Located at a site called Abu Simbel in Nubia, Upper Egypt, the eponymous rock temples were created in 1244 BCE, under the orders of Pharaoh Ramesses II (1303-1213 BC)... Ramesses II was fond of showcasing his achievements. It was this desire to brag about his victory that led to the planning and eventual construction of the temples (interestingly, historians say that the Battle of Qadesh actually ended in a draw based on the depicted story -- not quite the definitive victory Ramesses II was making it out to be).

Why it's only Modi ki guarantee, not BJP's, and how Varanasi has seen it up-close

"Development" along Ganga By Rosamma Thomas*  I was in Varanasi in this April, days before polling began for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. There are huge billboards advertising the Member of Parliament from Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The only image on all these large hoardings is of the PM, against a saffron background. It is as if the very person of Modi is what his party wishes to showcase.