cow slaughter, cow slaughter ban, beef ban
A woman spreads out fodder for rescued cattle at a cow shelter, run by Bharatiya Gou Rakshan Parishad, an arm of Hindu nationalist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), at Aangaon village in Maharashtra, in this February 20, 2015 file photo.reuters

The blind supporters of Prime Narendra Modi, irrespective of their geographical base or socio-economic status, have found a great satisfaction over the fact that their role model has finally spoken up on the issue of killing in the name of protecting cows. The PM recently recalled the non-violent legacy of Mahatma Gandhi while appealing against the mindless targeting and killing over cow vigilantism that is happening across the country over the last few years.

What is worse that yet another man was lynched in Jharkhand hours after PM broke his silence on the problem which is gradually snowballing and even after President Pranab Mukherjee and Congress president Sonia Gandhi expressed their concerns over the rising instances of 'intolerance', a veteran journalist in Bihar alleged that he was threatened to chant "Jai Shri Ram" by a group of Bajrang Dal supporters after blocking his car and threatened that they would burn down his car.

Perpetrators have understood that there is little resistance to their action

These incidents are more than enough to bring us to the conclusion that cow vigilantism and the majoritarian terrorism that are accompanying it will not stop even if the prime minister speaks against it because the perpetrators have understood it clearly that the rulers of the day are not in favour of condemning it. They are doing it when they are fearing a backlash.

Modi speaks against cow vigilantism only when elections approach

PM Modi spoke out against cow vigilantism at the Sabarmati Ashram precisely because he needed the Mahatma's magic to reach out to the voters of Gujarat. Modi knows how repulsive a practice is cow vigilantism and he used it to show the greatness of the Father of the Nation as someone whose deeds had earned India a noble identity in the past.

Precisely, Modi was politically selling the Mahatma to kindle the Gujarati asmita to ensure that the tricky-looking Gujarat elections scheduled later this year did not produce a shock result for the party. Cow vigilantism had no direct significance in the Sabarmati Ashram episode.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

But whatever be the political strategy, PM Modi has allowed the lynching culture to flourish since the death of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri in UP in September 2015. He had spoken earlier against this as well but it was ahead of the Bihar elections that year. Now, too, he spoke about it in a poll-bound state.

Somewhere, Modi is linking the issue which looks sinister enough, with only political reasoning and that is a terrible act to do. It is very unlikely that whatever is happening at the moment will come to a halt if the prime minister prefers to speak on the issue only eyeing a political gain.

While India is fighting cross-border terror, it is ignoring its own home-grown terror

It will not be exaggeration to say that Modi's India is vowing to tackle the problem of cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan's soil with an iron hand (read the surgical strikes or intending to turn off the Indus water tap), it is failing to seriously consider the growth of a home-grown variant of terrorism which is slowly spreading its tentacles across the society.

Whether the BJP is truly in favour of a heterogeneous India, an India which believes in the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi, at least on papers, is not important. What is much more crucial to know is whether the saffron party is indeed intending to stop this targeting and lynching of the lower castes and religious minorities and what measures it is taken at the administrative level to do so. One soothing remark from PM Modi citing Gandhi's non-violence is for the gallery. It is certainly not for those who have been executing the lynching plans with perfection till now.

Can Modi do what Vajpayee had done after the Christian missionaries were burnt to death?

The other NDA prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had shown a lot of spine after instances like the burning of a Christian missionary and his two sons in their car in Odisha in 1999. He was also the man who had expressed worry over 'Raj dharma' in the wake of the pogroms in Gujarat in 2002 when Modi was the chief minister of that state. There were not just talks after the Odisha tragedy and Vajpayee had not relented during his stay in office despite having a serious gap with the RSS.

Today, no such initiative is visible apart from a mere lip service which also, one believes, is being done in the face of the demands of a democracy. No effort to reach a consensus to tackle the cow vigilantism which is evolving as a national disaster is being taken. Just like the consensus-building for the presidential election or the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, there is no similar action to deal with the growing instances of lynching helpless individuals or groups.

A civilised state cannot continue co-existing with such endless atrocities committed against its own people. The danger is yet not out of hand. We sincerely hope that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, one of the best India has produced in the 70 years since independence, will not allow this danger to leave a deep stain on his records in office.