Indian Supreme Court tells States to move against lynching over sacred cows

Justices urge state governments to appoint a special police officer to prevent attacks on minorities. State authorities have a week to name candidates.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – The Supreme Court of India yesterday ordered all States of the Union to appoint police officers in every district to prevent lynching in the name of sacred cows.

By their action, the justices are sending a clear message: there has been enough violence against religious minorities, increasingly victims of Hindu radical nationalists who are ready to kill to defend their sacred animal.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Amitav Roy and A.M. Kanwilkar said that States shall nominate a senior police officer, preferably of the rank of deputy superintendent of police, to ensure that vigilante groups don’t “behave as if they are a law onto themselves and take prompt action and prosecute such people”. States now have a week to pick potential candidates.

The Court’s ruling is seen as an attempt to heal serious fractures in Indian society. Tensions between communities have been enhanced since the central government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to ban the slaughter of cows across India.

In India, Hindus consider the cow a sacred animal. Eating beef is seen as an outrage to the gods. Restrictions on meat and the leather trade have emboldened radical cow vigilantes who have been involved in many episodes of intolerance towards minority Muslims. The latter are the most involved in cattle breeding and meat trade.

According to a recent study, lynching, violence and killings by Hindu nationalists of members of minority groups have increased since the current prime minister came to power in 2014.

According to IndiaSpend, during the period 2010-2017, 96.8 per cent of attacks against Muslims (61 out of 63) took place under Modi’s government.

In addition, half of the attacks (32 out of 63) occurred in the states governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).