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Protecting the party, not cow

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Protecting the party,  not cow
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Rajasthan is a state in the vanguard among states that murder human beings in the name of protecting the cow. It is the state ruled by Vasundhare Raje Sindhya of BJP, that repeatedly proves its commitment to freeing from jail its own party's criminals – who had sent several victims, right from Pehlu Khan to Umar Khan, to death – on the pretext of protecting cows and without criminal cases or punishment. Despite being in power for so long, the state government has not been able to provide its population with drinking water in sufficient quantity. But Rajasthan achieved the dubious distinction of being the first state to appoint a minister exclusively for cow welfare. Public perception is likely to be that it is all milk and honey in such a country of cow-worshippers, where even cow is taken care of on a higher priority than human beings. But contrary to all such notions, the news now is that in the Sangh parivar-ruled Rajasthan, except for consigning cow shippers to death, welfare of cow is becoming just an empty slogan.

Those who had vowed to protect the cows, even by killing men, were at first trying to construct cow sheds to accommodate elder cows. Then they herded stray cows to such facilities, and appointed cow herds, all in the glare of publicity. But there ended everything, as it emerged from the reports of inefficiencies in the Hingonia Gaushala (cow rehabilitation centre), 160 kilometers from Alwar where Pehlu Khan was killed. Not that the keepers were not given due wages, but the complaint was that the authorities did not show even the primary courtesy of providing first aid whenever they got injured with hit by the cattle.

The employees of the cow shed went on strike twice on this issue. To take care of 13,166 cows, there are only 240 employees in the Hingonia gaushala. In spite of the existence of a cow protection portfolio and a minister, finally the government had to outsource the maintenance of the cowsheds to private agencies. The agency gets a financial assistance of Rs 70 per cow and Rs 35 per calf. The fodder will be provided by devotees. The agency will get all the income including that from sale of milk and dairy products. The fact is that even with all such facilities, the agency gets fattened but the cows and employees are losing weight. Last year, in a single month, about 500 cows died in the pen alone, which was the background for engaging the private agencies for their rearing.

However, what this sad fate of the cattle tells us is just the fact that other than plowing the field for the pugnacious politics of the Sangh parivar, this cow rearing mission has no other function to serve. Over the last four years, in Rajasthan more than a thousand cows died after eating plastic waste. Veterinary experts say that the cows were dying of heart failure on eating plastic trash including polythene bags. And the cows and other cattle dying so are the ones roaming in the open. When the carcasses of some of them were cut open in the abdomen, plastic substances upto 35 kilograms were found inside, which was confirmed by none else than Cow Welfare Minister Otaram Dewasi.

The government has not put in place any plan to eradicate or process the waste including plastic, that gets accumulated in markets, in a manner not harming the public. In the same manner, thousands cows roam about in the streets, but the attempt to rehabilitate them in gaushalas has not succeeded so far. The government is collecting cess on almost all services towards protection of cows. Even then, it has not been able to set up a systematic machinery for their protection. Even as the BJP is boasting about the clean-up campaign called Swachch Bharat, there is no attempt on the part of the state government to implement that. In fact, it is also a part of the punishment for this which the mother cows are now being subjected. But strangely, the cow protection minister's take on this is that there is nothing for the state government to do on this score. According to him, only when the people bring down their plastic consumption can the cows be protected.

But even the minister does not have an answer to the question whether it becomes a party that goes eloquent on the dream of swachch bharat to have stinking streets. Apart from treating it as an incendiary stick to ignite hatred and vengeance among the people, nothing like the real goal of swachch bharat or the welfare of the cow seems to figure in the Sangh parivar's agenda. Their aim is to convert a section whom they do not approve of, whom they can brand cattle-thieves and beef-eaters at their whim and condemn and lynch to death. Hindutva politics is intent on promoting politics of communal hatred, even at the cost of butchering in the name of cows those whom they have marked as internal enemies. The current experience is that protection of cows is miserably failing not only in Rajasthan but in all BJP-ruled states. But then what if cows die? The BJP and Sangh parivar know too well to keep up the the flavour of racial hatred built on that basis.

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