The latest incident of cow-lynching, in which one person died and three were left injured in a village in Jharkhand after they were attacked by a mob from a neighbouring village, and all that has followed in the aftermath are yet another sign that the madness over bovine slaughter is spiralling out of control. To be sure, some states have outlawed the slaughter of some or all bovine animals—Jharkhand is one of them. But the latest gau rakshak lynching happened when 35 tribals were carving the carcass of an ox that had died a natural death. Apart from the attack itself, what is atrocious is that the police, The Indian Express reports, has booked the three injured under the state’s bovine slaughter law.
While locals have said that bovine slaughter and carving/skinning of carcasses were not an issue the past, the failure to act against gau rakshaks—indeed, the ruling party has celebrated lynching-accused in both Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh—has sent out the message that such crimes will be ignored. This kind of dog-whistling is indeed what encouraged a mob in Assam to force-feed a Muslim vendor pork, over allegations that he was selling bovine meat. The tide of aggressive Hindu-centric politics emboldened cow vigilantism. The Supreme Court had ordered the states to appoint a police officer in each district as the nodal officer to curb cow-vigilantism. But, as long as there is tacit political support, such action means little.