Tragic news has poured in from Uttar Pradesh (UP). A gruesome incident by a cow vigilante mob has claimed another life: this time a custodian of law and order no less. Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh has been gunned down in Bulandshahr in UP. Known as an upright man, he was the First Investigating Officer in the Mohammed Akhlaq cow lynching case in Dadri in 2015. His grieving sister suspects a conspiracy.
The gau rakshaks (cow vigilantes) let it be known have sent out a clear message this time: that they fear no one, not even the law. This kind of brazenness towards the law has been a unique feature of the Modi Raj. It has found its ultimate expression on the street by local vigilante groups, all of which are associated with extreme right organisations. The main accused Yogesh Raj, associated with the Bajrang Dal, is on the run.
Chilling murder of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh caught on camera. His vehicle was cornered in the middle of a field in Syana area in Bulandshahr and was attacked by angry protestors. @Uppolice pic.twitter.com/m17P4FtAfr
— Piyush Rai (@PiyushRaiTOI) December 3, 2018
In July this year, the Supreme Court after hearing a string of writ petitions with regards to cow vigilantism, issued guidelines and recommended that Parliament may frame a special law against lynching. The court has compared extrajudicial vigilantism to an epidemic that would “plague and corrode the nation.” But so far no decisive action has been taken. The apex court must review the situation. If the protectors of law and order are going to be callously targeted there is little hope for the common citizen.
This Akhand Bharat Map stuck at the entrance to the house of Yogesh Raj, Bajrang Dal district convenor and main conspirator in the Bulandshahar violence. pic.twitter.com/Jq8Fcw9zxC
— Piyush Rai (@PiyushRaiTOI) December 4, 2018
The incident is also a dangerous example of the deliberate and malicious undermining of law. Its long tail has bred communalism of both the overt and the covert kind and has further destabalised our collective social fabric whose values are enshrined in our Constitution. The North Indian States of UP and Rajasthan have particularly borne the viciousness of cow vigilantism and lynching: open murders that have been brutally played out and shared on social media. The victims are always Muslims and in some cases Dalits even.
In purely commercial terms vigilantism has led to strengthening the black markets of beef mixed with buffalo meat. Gaushalas have been exposed. An economy of protection has boomed. Gangs are routine at extorting money. Bribe or be lynched, or better still give away your cow, either forcibly or willingly. The livelihoods of dairy farmers have been terribly hit.
Breaking- NHRC issues notice to the Government of Uttar Pradesh over killing of two persons, including a police officer, in the violent agitation in district #Bulandshahr.
Chief Secretary & DGP have been asked to file detailed report within 4 weeks.
— The Leaflet (@TheLeaflet_in) December 4, 2018
On the other hand there is an increasing number of homeless and abandoned cows. But this does not interest the militant gau rakshaks. The politics over the gentle Indian bovine is not new but it has assumed a dangerous narrative that shamelessly sanctions vigilantism, lynching, and murder. Along with its other hapless victims, a brave officer in the sincere pursuit of his duty is no longer with us.