Friends to foes: How Gaurakshaks are switching sides
Following the public rebuke from the Prime Minister, gaurakshaks have started distancing themselves from the BJP. They now stand in opposition to the leader they once hailed
Shibu Kumar Tripathi Delhi
The act of saving cows is facing flak from all and sundry, ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi openly branded gaurakshaks as hooligans. Ever since Delhi has become the command centre for the much-maligned gaurakshak dals. With over 180-200 unofficial units running within the borders of Delhi, they are inspiring cow-saving fanatics from around the country to rally behind cows, even at the cost of human lives.
Bharatiya Gau Rakshak Dal (BGRD) has been at the forefront of ‘saving’ cows from illegal trade, slaughter and other nefarious activities they deem unfit in Delhi. The organisation is registered under the Company’s Act as a non-profit organisation by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and has a national footprint.
BGRD certifies other cow protection committees or state-run units which are involved in safeguarding cows from being slaughtered throughout the country. Over 20 units of gaurakshaks have already been certified by the BGRD in the capital. Numerous outfits like Rashtriya Goraksha Sena, Gau Gyan Foundation, Vishwa Hindu Sena, Hindu Ratna, Goraksha Hindu Sena Bharat and others have been functioning in Delhi NCR region for decades now. However, they have become more active in the last couple of years.
“We created and ran numerous groups online to create a support base for Narendra Modi, and now he has termed us as hooligans. We were behind groups like I Stand With Modi, Modi Sena, We Support Narendra Modi, Hindu Sena and others to rally around him and make him the Prime Minister of India”
All such gorakshak committees have been at their peak of operations since the BJP came to power. However, their morale has gone down following the statement of the Prime Minister calling them ‘rowdy elements’ of society. Officials in Vishwa Hindu Sena said that they used to feel empowered when the BJP came to power, but all that has changed now. Terming Narendra Modi an opportunist, they said, “He changes his moves according to the mood of the nation. Even during his address he never talked about the core issue of slaughtering of cows, he only talked about the gaurakshaks.”
A nationwide offensive has been launched on social media against the BJP and the Prime Minister. Pawan Pandit, Chairman of BGRD, opines that it was the Hindus who made Narendra Modi what he is today and says, “We created and ran numerous groups online to create a support base for Narendra Modi, and now he has termed us hooligans. We created groups like I Stand With Modi, Modi Sena, We Support Narendra Modi, Hindu Sena and others to rally around him and make him the Prime Minister of India.”
Following the backlash from the PM and his colleagues, gaurakshaks have started opposing the very same ideas which they once promoted. Calling Narendra Modi as a political opportunist, most of these units have started running online campaigns against BJP. Pandit said that, “There is at least 1 gaurakshak dal in every district of Delhi which is devoted towards safeguarding cows.”
Most of these gauraksha committees are social-media savvy and effectively use Facebook and Whatsapp to spread their messages. Most of the videos are uploaded and shared instantly following any incident. The gaurakshak dal pages on Facebook have over 10,000 likes and over 5,000 active members sharing their posts instantly.
Gaurakshaks have been regularly claiming to be an asset to the Hindu society, continuing the work of previous generations to protect the holy cow. Officials in Hindu Ratna said that they have been regularly trying to mobilise people from other communities as well in order to create awareness and spread the message. They said that there was an initiative in 2014 to include Muslims in the work of cow protection, but there has been no response to that so far.
The issue of cow vigilantism came into the limelight following the lynching of a 50-year-old man in Dadri village on the allegation of killing a cow and storing beef in his house in 2015. A similar incident took place in Somnath district of Gujarat last month where four Dalits were brutally flogged in public on allegations of skinning a cow, which was later found to be already dead at the time of skinning. The flogging has triggered major agitation throughout Gujarat, which many feel forced Chief Minister Anandiben Patel to resign and the Prime Minister to condemn it.