“Killing people in the name of Gau Bhakti (cow worship) is not acceptable. This not something Mahatma Gandhi would approve,” Modi said on Thursday.
He was pained and anguished about the current environment, he said and added: “No person in this nation has the right to take the law in his or her own hands. Violence has and never will solve any problem.”
But given the frenzied violence against Muslims whipped up by the State-backed cow protection movement, it is doubtful if mere disapproval, short of condemnation and devoid of warnings of action, will stop government-backed Gau Rakshaks on the rampage in several parts of North India, traditionally dubbed as the “backward cow belt”.
Modi’s comments come just days after the lynching of 15-year old Hafiz Junaid by a group of men who accused him and his brother of carrying beef.
Lynching of Muslims and low-caste Dalits is not new to India, but it has increased of late, given the tacit sanction being given by the dominant political party, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which came to power with an overwhelming majority for the first time in May 2014.
A study by the website IndiaSpends found that Muslims were the target of 51 percent of violence centered on the cow issue between 2010 and 2017. Among the 28 Indians killed in 63 incidents, 86 percent were Muslims.
As many of 97 percent of these attacks were reported after 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 BJP when the attacks were reported.
As many as 124 people were injured in these attacks. More than half or 52 percent of these attacks were based on rumours, the IndiaSpend analysis found.
In the first six months of 2017, 20 “cow-terror” attacks were reported – more than 75 percent of the figure for 2016.
Stops Iftar parties
To reinforce the anti-Muslim feeling and give it sanction at the highest level, Modi stopped the time-honoured practice of Indian prime ministers hosting an Iftar party for Muslim leaders and personalities once during Ramadan every year.
Modi has scrupulously also avoided the customary Iftar hosted by the president of India. Taking the cue from him, his ministers also avoided the Iftar hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee this year. Modi also did not greet Muslims on Eid.
Modi was prompted to issue a statement on Thursday because of a wave of demonstrations across the cities of India against the killings.
Thousands gathered with armbands, placards and banners saying “Not in My Name”, condemning the barbaric killings in the name of Hinduism and the cow.