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

Democracy is not just about elections. There is something bigger to it and it is called conscience. The MODIfied India which took birth on May 26, 2014, has seen saffron politics expanding its influence with each passing election but the silent protests that were witnessed in as many as 10 cities across the country against the relentless attacks on Muslims on charges of bovine reasons on Wednesday (June 28) proved that not everything is right in today's India.

When 52-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched in Dadri in UP in September 2015, it was still not believed that such incidents would soon turn into a rule rather than the exception. Less than two years since then, the attacks on the minorities – be it religious or caste-wise – have become such a routine affair that the civil society finally took to the streets to protest the mindless violence and killing of people for no reason.

Neither govt nor biased media is addressing the issue

What is worse is that neither the government nor the shamefully biased media is caring to address the issue which is snowballing each day and has the potential to ruin India's social fabric one fine morning. A little condemnation here and there is what we hear after each of these chilling instances but hardly there is any zero-tolerance policy in place to combat what is eventually turning out to be a majoritarian terror.

Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not been seen speaking much about the issue except once in a town hall-like audience session in New Delhi in August 2016. However, one must remember that Modi's remark against "gau rakshaks" that day came in the wake of the flogging of Dalits by upper-caste vigilantes for skinning a dead cow. The prime minister has not been heard uttering anything similar when the Muslims are being mindlessly terrorised and killed for 'not respecting' the cow. Can we expect a full-fledged episode on this in your popular Mann Ki Baat, Mr Prime Minister?

Promoter of saffron project has found the opportunity of their lifetime

Chances are very less. For those who are hell-bent to make the saffron project a success in India have found the opportunity of their life time since May 2014 when Modi stormed to power with a single-party majority. In a complete contrast to what it was like during the earlier NDA rule led by Atal Behari Vajpayee, the RSS and its loyalists have found that there is no counterweight of coalition politics to stop them from going ahead with their sinister design to achieve a monolithic India. And with the genie virtually out of the bottle, there is very little that even the PM can do now to cage it again.

Instances of cow vigilantism in Narendra Modi's India between September 2015 and June 2017
The list of instances of cow vigilantism in India in the Narendra Modi era [between September 2015 and June 2017]IB Times

Modi might have earned accolades as an administrator in the three years that he has ruled but he hasn't really shown any intent to stop the murder of innocent Muslims in the name of honouring the cow, which faces far bigger threat to its survival from other factors.

Modi, who himself had to travel a long distance for an image makeover since the pogroms in Gujarat in 2002, has the risk of turning into a hopeless minority in the Sangh Parivar if he tries to arrest the trend of mob violence against members from the minority community.

The two towering personalities of the BJP – Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani – had faced the wrath of the RSS for their moderate stances and given the decimation of the centrist forces in the country's politics and the rise of a suitable combination of Hindu nationalism and liberalised economy, there is virtually no stopping for the saffron hardliners to thrive for their dream.

Vajpayee had acted soon after the Staines' were burnt alive in Odisha

We may remember the alacrity with which Vajpayee had acted in the wake of the burning alive of a Christian missionary and his two small sons inside a vehicle in Odisha in January 1999. The then president – KR Narayanan – had also slammed the incident in the most befitting language. Vajpayee also strived more for the secularisation of the BJP in the wake of the horror to put the hardliners under check.

In the era of Modi, we haven't seen any such initiative even as people continue to get lynched across the nation.

The cow has just been a medium to achieve the more dangerous goal. The saffron hardliners cannot afford to engage in outright communal violence to eradicate those who do not fit into their definition of cultural nationalism as that will bring all the blame on PM Modi and disrupt the facade of development which has been put up to expand the BJP's base across the country. So, here comes the strategy of disconnected attacks on individuals and groups in connection to the cow, considered the sacred animal by the Hindus.

The signs are extremely ominous. With none of the state's major institutions ready to take on the culprits sternly, something Vajpayee's NDA government had done, and the Opposition in a mess, it is difficult to imagine who really can save the hapless minority from the claws of the evil doers.

The civil society has raised its voice at the right time by dissociating it with the communal act. Will that move the State's conscience?