Saturday, March 25, 2023
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Shashi Tharoor: It seems safer in many places to be a cow than a Muslim

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Modi government seems to believe it can issue statements with utter disregard for the truth and people will believe them.

Home minister Rajnath Singh’s robust denial (during the no-confidence debate in the Lok Sabha) that mob lynching has got any worse under BJP rule comes hard on the heels of union minister for minority affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, declaring earlier this month that there have been “no big communal riots” in India over the past four years. Both are wrong, of course, but it is instructive to analyse how wrong they are.

Since the ascent of the BJP to power, the forces unleashed by the dominance of Hindutva have resulted in many incidents of violence. In one grim reckoning, more than 389 individuals have been killed in anti-minority acts of violence since mid-2014, and hundreds of others injured, stripped, beaten and humiliated. Particularly haunting is the story of 15-year-old Junaid Khan, returning home on a crowded train after buying new clothes for Eid, who was stabbed repeatedly because he was Muslim and thrown off the train to bleed to death on the tracks. Headlines have spoken continually of riots and killing, Hindu against Muslim, of men being slaughtered because of the mark on a forehead or the absence of a foreskin.

Following the BJP’s victory in the 2014 elections, a wave of Hindu triumphalism has swept the land. In its wake have come new laws to protect cows and vociferous demands for their strict enforcement. Gau-rakshak or cow protection societies have been revived, and many have taken it upon themselves to compel compliance. In the process, not only have they taken the law into their own hands, but they have perpetrated grave crimes, including murder, in the name of protecting the cow. Seventy cases of cow-related violence have been reported in the last eight years, of which 97 per cent (68 out of 70) have occurred during the four years of BJP rule and a majority of these have occurred in BJP-ruled states. A hundred and thirty six people have been injured in these attacks and 28 killed: 86 per cent of the victims were, of course, Muslim.

Many of the incidents are well known: the case of a dairy farmer, Pehlu Khan, transporting cattle legally with a licence, being beaten to death on 1 April 2017 while his tormentors filmed his pleas for mercy on their mobile phones is particularly egregious. A cattle-herder in Haryana, Mustain Abbas, was murdered and mutilated a year earlier for doing his job, herding cattle. Truckers, cattle traders and alleged cow smugglers have also been killed by ‘gau rakshak’ groups. A 16-year-old Kashmiri Muslim boy was murdered for having hitched a ride on a truck that was transporting cattle. It seems safer in many places these days to be a cow than a Muslim.

In 2015, when a Muslim, Mohammad Akhlaq, father of a serving Indian Air Force havildar, was lynched by a mob in Uttar Pradesh on suspicions of having killed a cow, the authorities launched a forensic investigation into whether the meat in his refrigerator was beef (it was not). The fact that the man had been killed and his son nearly beaten to death was equated with an unfounded allegation of beef consumption, as if the latter ‘crime’ could extenuate the former. Worse, when a man who was part of the lynch mob died of natural causes a few weeks later, his coffin was draped with the Indian flag and a serving union minister who attended his funeral hailed him – an unspeakable act, and coming from a high office-holder of the secular Indian state, an unacceptable one.

Muslims have not been the only targets of the cow vigilantes, of course. There are also Dalits. But the communal colour that marked each of these incidents speaks to the inaccuracy of the ministers’ statements. Perhaps they would take refuge behind the assertion that these were isolated incidents rather than mass communal violence. Yet they speak of a pervasive pattern that has deeply affected society across the country. And when another minister is accused of condoning such incidents by garlanding members of a lynch-mob, society shivers. (He says these individuals were framed and are out on bail, but regrets having garlanded them: the damage, though, is done.)

There is a tragic vocabulary to the analysis of communal violence in our country. A “major” communal incident is one that results in more than five deaths or leaves over 10 people injured. An incident that results in one death or 10 injured is termed as “important or significant”. Naqvi spoke of “big” communal riots, but “big” is not a term of art in our national lexicology, and it cannot be defined. “Major”, however, is surely “big”, and three “major communal incidents” have been reported during the BJP rule – Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh in 2014, Hazinagar, West Bengal in 2016 and Baduria-Basirhat, also in West Bengal in 2017.

When we move from “major”, however, to merely “important”, the number of “communal incidents” in the last four years rises to 2,920, in which 389 people were killed and 8,890 injured. My source is Rajnathji’s own government: these figures come from a reply by the home ministry to questions in the Lok Sabha. According to the government, Uttar Pradesh (UP), somewhat predictably, reported the most incidents over the last four years, a staggering 645. UP also reported the most deaths in these communal incidents (121) between 2014 and 2017, followed by Rajasthan (36) and Karnataka (35). The venues for communal rioting on the BJP’s watch have ranged from Ballabgarh, Haryana, in 2015 to Bhima-Koregaon, Maharashtra, this year.

The home ministry’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) collects and maintains nationwide crime records, which naturally includes riots. NCRB data confirm that over 2,885 communal riots were reported between 2014 and 2016. Many others may not have been recorded as communal; as many as 61,974 riots were reported in 2016 under Sections 147 to 151 and 153A of the IPC (the latter records cases relating to “promoting enmity on ground of religion, race and place of birth”). In 2016, 869 communal riots were reported, the largest number in Haryana (250). The figures for 2017 haven’t been released yet. More than halfway into 2018, I dread what they are likely to reveal.

We have a government that seems to believe it can issue statements with utter disregard for the truth and people will believe them. This is the only explanation for the two ministers’ breathtaking assertions. It matches the Prime Minister’s claims on the economy and the government’s blandly disingenuous PR pronouncements on everything from electrification to women’s empowerment. But facts and figures matter. And the numbers simply do not add up to the picture the government seeks to portray.

Dr Shashi Tharoor is a Member of Parliament for Thiruvananthapuram and former MoS for External Affairs and HRD. He served the UN as an administrator and peacekeeper for three decades. He studied history at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, and International Relations at Tufts University. Tharoor has authored 17 books, both fiction and non-fiction; his most recent book is ‘Why I am a Hindu’. Follow him on Twitter @ShashiTharoor.

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  1. Sir it is actually safer to be a Mr Tharoor than to be a cow, with the entire media standing in line to hold him right, n matter what his own political masters mandate for him!

  2. A wage earner’s wife lives a safer life than the wife of this intellectual loafer. He is now a suspected wife killer. And as a great Hindu as he claims, let him milch a healthy cow in his home instead of milching the Muslim votes.

    • Well said. Hope he is reading. Nothing against muslims but only this hypocrite liberal who thinks he can charm the classes with their highfalutin English vocabulary. It is a shoot and scoot intellectualism; write and then vanish. Hope he has the courage to read some of our comments.

  3. The assertion made by the government spokespersons here was not that no riots have taken place. What they claimed was that the situation hasn’t gotten worse. A fairer study would have been the comparison of the numbers across years and not just focussing on BJP years. Additionally, implying that BJP in power leads to Hindus inciting terror/vandalism is the clear intent of this article. By simply parroting wrong/misleading information without any basis in truth. In that regard, Mr. Tharoor, you are as truthful or untruthful as the people you are trying to point a finger at here.

  4. What about Kashmiri pundits murdered and raped and forced to flee their homeland during congress regime? What have you done for them? Stop whipping up false hysteria.

  5. The Print has become the mouthpiece of Sashi Tharoor. For them he is the last word the holi cow. There cannot be another word besides him

  6. I believe everyone has their views and we should believe in freedom of speech . These are every interesting facts and i thank individuals for stating opinions, surfacing the lies the media and marketing has exhibited to brainwash people about how amazing our country is governed.

  7. Not only seems but it is safer to be pig than Indian cow in terms of religious bias.: The Cow

    such inference from such logical people like Dr Tharoor is really unbecoming. U really failed to analyse lawlessness vs religion.

  8. I want him to be a either a cow or a bull or a buffalo in kerala. Since he is a Cong man he would be safest there.

  9. Shashi is a pseudo intellectual. He just has good gift of the gab, good English and just that. Otherwise he is a pretty ordinary stuff!

  10. May be wrong…
    Sometime back, someone made a remark about airtravel.
    ‘Economy class as ‘CATTLE CLASS’.
    Am not sure WHO.

  11. Kya milta hai sir aapko ye sub coment karke…ab aapki coment se lagta hai k aap sarkar virodhi ya modi virodhi nahi desh virodhi kar rahe ho…desh ko or deshvasiyo ko kabhi to feel krao k aap jaiso ki jaroorat h….

  12. Thank you, Dr. Tharoor for highlighting one of the very sensitive issues in Indian politics today.
    PM Modi’s government has not only given a licence to fascist forces to oppress minorities but also murder innocent people on the name of religion.
    It is a sad situation that needs to be dealt with soon before it is too late for democracy, good governance and majority minority relations.
    Rapes, communal violence, Muslim lynchings and Dalit conversions are giving a very bad name to India.

    Kind regards

  13. @ Shashikanth Tharoor…….. And being Muslims is more safer than bring wives.

    Before pointing at someone look at the your own crap

  14. Yes ….Animals are more important than human beings….!
    Iam doubting we are moving to an Animal Kingdom in near future…?
    – Baby.Y.Kireedathil,
    Kochi, Kerala

  15. The unintended consequences of socialism is poverty. Similarly, the unintended consequences of anti cow slaughter laws are lynchings. Socialism can be blamed on solely on government. Lynchings can be blamed on socialism, state and the public.
    Socialism because all the monies go for freebies and subsidies and there is no money left for world class police services. ‘State’ because the government is responsible for following socialism. Public because of mob mentality, taking law into their hands, immorality. The end result is lynchings.

  16. Tharoor is an idiot, characterless creature, who has no work other than romancing with young women, by impressing them with his understandable English,, and commenting absurd on Hindus traditions, people like shashi tharoor are actually false (nakli) Hindus,

    • Who are you to judge? Everyone knows the author’s pedigree. Doubt if your own family would recognise you.

  17. I fail to understand in which category u will place Ms. Sunanda Pushkar death. Was it less important a life, who could be managed with 50 crore initially then her mouth shut with a marriage and then finally eliminated. No remorse at all. Such ppl need to be shunned and they do not deserve to be our representatives, the least.

  18. The data given by Print itself has no base. The communal riots, not always started by the BJP or any Hindu party. The Print also should have reported the case of Mandsour. The incidents of stone pelting by Kashmiri also should have been reported. The article is so biased that it portrays that only Hindus are creating problems and they are Jihadi and Muslims are pious as cow. Why Print has not taken considered the communal riots in Bengal and Kerala. Simply because it does not suit their purpose of Hindu bashing. Hindu bashing is a long practice of so called liberals. The culture of the nation is Hindu culture and if cow is a sacred animal for them it shall be respected. Hindus, if have become violent, it can be because the so called liberals like The Print are bent upon painting Hindu with black colour. For years it has been happening and now Hindus have awaken.

    • Do you want your Hindu brethren working as chauffeur, chaperone and clerk in the Arab nations adopt Islamic practices? Or do you want your compatriots working as software professionals in the US to adopt Christian practices? If you claim that all people living in the Hindu country of India must adopt Hindu practices, Hindus living in non-Hindu countries might get into trouble?

  19. This fellow didn’t see how much hindus are kerala his own state leave alone all over India

    • What have you done to save the Hindus in Kerala from Muslim and Christian criminal / missionaries / employers? Have you offered a single rupee worth of legal assistance? Have you offered a job? Have you invited people of castes lower than yours to your house? I doubt you have. Active people don’t crib.


  20. Even one incident of lynching, like Alwar, should be considered unacceptable, something like our zero tolerance policy towards terrorism.

    • What is your suggestion? Commenting and criticizing without any suggestions for solution is meaningless.

  21. BJP wants to have the clean image of the government but the hard core Hindutva, unguided persons bring bad image. to the Midi government. They should be dealt strictly. Modiji is trying hard to uplift India.

  22. Congress strategy is very clear for 2019. Fear mongering among the Muslims and divide Hindus on the basis of caste. Nothing new in the strategy though. Appeasement politics can only end when the Hindus see through this and give them 4 seats instead of 44 the next time around.

    • The BJP strategy is very clear for 2019 as well. Give a new name like Garry to the above poster and hire him on a per post stipend.

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