SC blasts Gau Rakshaks, directs states to form Task Force in a week

New Delhi: Coming down heavily on cow vigilantism, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed every state to constitute a task force to check such acts of violence.

The top court gave the states one week to form their respective task forces which will have senior policemen as nodal officers.

The apex court had on April 7 sought the response of six states on a plea by activist Tehseen S Poonawalla, filed on October 21 last year, seeking action against cow vigilantes who were allegedly indulging in violence and committing atrocities against Dalits and minorities.

During the last hearing on July 21, the Supreme Court asked the Centre and the states not to protect any kind of vigilantism and had sought their response on violent incidents in the garb of cow protection. It had posted the matter for September 6.

Poonawalla, in his plea, had said that violence committed by gau raksha (cow protection) groups has reached such proportions that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had declared them as people who were “destroying the society”.

The plea also alleged that these groups were committing atrocities against Dalits and minorities in the name of protecting cows and other bovines and they needed to be “regulated and banned in the interest of social harmony, public morality and law and order in the country”.

“The menace caused by the so-called cow protection groups is spreading fast to every nook and corner of the country and is creating disharmony among various communities and castes,” the petition had said.

The plea sought to declare as “unconstitutional” section 12 of the Gujarat Animal Prevention Act, 1954, Section 13 of Maharashtra Animal Prevention Act, 1976, and Section 15 of Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, 1964, which provide for protection of persons acting in good faith under the Act or rules.

Seeking action against the vigilantes, the petition said the atrocities committed by them were punishable under various provisions of IPC and under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of atrocities) Act, 1989.

As many of 97 % of these attacks were reported after PM Modi’s government came to power in May 2014, and about half the cow-related violence — 32 of 63 cases –were from states governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) when the attacks were reported, revealed our analysis of violence recorded until June 25, 2017, IANS had reported.

(With PTI inputs)