Modi’s words on cow vigilantism sound hollow, says opposition

New Delhi: Opposition leaders on Thursday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on killings in the name of cow protection, saying those sound “hollow” and “mere lip service”, as little has changed despite his earlier similar warnings.

Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the series of attacks on people accused of eating beef or slaughtering cows had to stop and “just words will not do”.

“We condemn killings taking place in the name of ‘gau raksha’ (cow protection). This must stop now. Just words not enough,” she tweeted.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said Modi’s remarks in Sabarmati Ashram condemning killings in the name of cow protection was an eyewash and was done under public pressure. He described it as yet another “publicity stunt”.

The Delhi Assembly, where the Aam Aadmi Party is in an overwhelming majority, passed a resolution condemning the killings and violence across the country in the name of religion and urged people to remain alert to threats posed by divisive elements.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief and Lok Sabha member Asaduddin Owaisi termed Modi’s comments as “lip service” and said “gau rakshaks” got direct and indirect support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Sangh Parivar.

“The Prime Minister says killings unacceptable but three alleged killers of Pahlu khan are yet to be arrested and BJP is in power in Rajasthan. Walk the talk Mr. PM,” Owaisi tweeted.

“Modi’s statement is mere lip service… So long as an animal has a higher premium, killings of human beings will continue,” Owaisi added.

“The Prime Minister should ask himself as to who has created this atmosphere of lawlessness in the country. Pro forma condemnations are not enough. The Prime Minister must reaffirm that he believes in the founding values of the Indian state,” said Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari.

Modi, speaking at Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad on Thursday, said that killings in the name of cows were unacceptable and that nobody had the right to take the law in their hands.

Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi, in a sarcasm-laced remark, said the “presence of Gandhiji’s living spirit in Sabarmati Ashram” must have affected Modi.

“What he has said is absolutely right but it should be followed by very strong action on the ground. All the perpetrators (of hate crimes) have to be caught and prosecuted and the public’s confidence (in law and order) has to be revived,” Gandhi told IANS.

Saying that the “state has been complicit in murders in cow’s name”, Gandhi hoped that Modi’s statement would herald the beginning of a change.

Janata Dal United (JD-U) spokesman K.C. Tyagi said he did not see any substance in Modi’s remarks.

“The Prime Minister has spoken on cow vigilantism earlier too but it has had little impact on the ground. In fact, every time he issues such advisory to gau rakshaks (cow vigilantes), the incidents of violence in the name of cow go up,” Tyagi said.

Communist Party of India leader D. Raja demanded concrete action against the people involved in violence against minorities on one pretext or the other.

“He (Modi) is speaking alright but what is the action that he is suggesting? All the incidents of lynching in the name of cow are happening in BJP-ruled states. So who is patronising the cow vigilantes?” Raja said.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) spokesperson Manoj Jha said Modi’s words sounded hollow.

“He had made such delayed statements about the Rohith Vemula suicide and the Una incident (thrashing of Dalits) too. Did it stop? What this nation urgently requires is a robust legislation against mob lynchings,” Jha told IANS.

On Wednesday, protests were held in several cities across India under the banner of “#NotInMyName” to denounce lynching of innocent people in the name of religion and protection of cows.