Hindustan Times/Getty Images

India’s Cow Vigilantes

Since the victory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP in 2014, a wave of Hindu chauvinism has swept India, bringing with it not just new cow-protection laws, but also vociferous demands for their strict enforcement. Worse, citizens are taking the law into their own hands – at the expense of Dalits and Muslims.

NEW DELHI – Indian politics continues to amaze and appall. The surge in cow vigilantism – a uniquely Indian phenomenon that has lately begun to flourish under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government – is no exception.

Many orthodox Hindus, particularly in the northern Indian states that comprise the so-called Cow Belt, worship the cow as gau mata, the “mother of all,” which provides nourishment and sustenance through its milk – not its meat. Refusing to eat beef is common in these states.

But it is not always a personal choice. Several Indian states have passed laws outlawing cow slaughter, and some have prohibited the possession and consumption of beef altogether. Cow slaughter and beef consumption are fully legal in just five of India’s 29 states, mainly in the south and northeast.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/vZqmgei;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.