Human Rights Watch has released a report on the issue of violence against Dalits and Muslims in India, being carried out by so called ‘cow protection’ extremist Hindu groups. The organisation demands that the Government act to bring justice to the victims and curb this disturbing trend.
In the report Human Rights Watch (HRW) states:
Indian authorities should promptly investigate and prosecute self-appointed “cow protectors” who have committed brutal attacks against Muslims and Dalits over rumors that they sold, bought, or killed cows for beef, Human Rights Watch said today. Instead of taking prompt legal action against the vigilantes, many linked to extremist Hindu groups affiliated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the police, too often, have filed complaints against the assault victims, their relatives, and associates under laws banning cow slaughter.
Many Hindus consider the cow to be a holy animal, and slaughter is forbidden in most parts of Hindu-majority India. Since May 2015, a violent vigilante campaign against beef consumption has led to the killing of at least 10 Muslims, including a 12-year-old boy, in seven separate incidents of mob violence. In July 2016, in Gujarat, vigilantes stripped four Dalit men, tied them to a car, and beat them with sticks and belts over suspicions of cow slaughter. In a number of cases, the attackers have also robbed their victims of cash and cellphones, and damaged their property.
“Self-appointed ‘cow protectors’ driven by irresponsible populism are killing people and terrorizing minority communities,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director. “The government should condemn this violence and take prompt action against those responsible for these attacks or face allegations of complicity.”
IDSN has also raised the issue of cow vigilante violence against Dalits and Muslims on several occasions including in this article on how the Indian Government were criticized for inaction in relation to the case in Gujarat, mentioned above.
The HRW report continues to outline the many recent cases of violations against Muslims and Dalits carried out by cow vigilante groups. Human Rights Watch also questions the commitment of the Government in relation to protecting human rights and pursuing justice in these cases, stating:
“The mild admonitions from BJP leaders when Muslims and Dalits are lynched over cows sends a message that the BJP supports this violence,” Ganguly said. “Instead of a government that took office on the promise of universal development, it now appears to be one unwilling to protect those most vulnerable.”