New Delhi: Over the last few years, the cow has emerged as a major player in Indian politics. Bharatiya Janata Party’s endorsement of the bovine has made the pastoral animal a political tool to win favours among Hindu groups.
The fierce politicisation of the cow has also led to the rise of cow vigilantes, or gaukrakshaks, and spread of violence over cow protection. Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have seen multiple instances of violence and unrest that have led to deaths of innocent cattle traders and even policemen.
During its rule, BJP has been attacked by opposition parties over cow politics, but of late the saffron party has not been the only political entity milking the cow for its benefit.
Earlier this week, the newly formed Congress government in Rajasthan announced that it would honour people who adopt stray cows, on Independence Day and Republic Day.
The Directorate of Gopalan, Rajasthan government, which was formed under BJP rule, issued a letter to all district collectors, asking them to motivate donors, NGOs, social workers and cow lovers to adopt stray cows, and felicitate such people on August 15 and January 26.
According to Vishram Meena, director of Gopalan department, the step was taken so the people can develop an attachment for cows.
Just like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan has a stray cow problem. Farmers in the state complain of stray groups of cattle ruining their crop. The state has also seen the ugly side of cow politics.
In 2017, a group of cow vigilantes lynched Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer from Alwar transporting cattle legally.
However, the Congress government that came to power in December, has so far not shied away from cow centric policies.
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