New Delhi: At least two BJP-ruled states have taken a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement last year when he condemned murders in the name of gau-bhaktiand said that 80-90% of those who called themselves gau rakshaks were indulging in illegal activities at night and became cow protectors by the day.
Haryana and Uttarakhand, both states with a Gau Sewa Aayog (Cow Care Commission), are in the process of handing out official identity cards to ‘genuine’ gau rakshaks.
The Aayog in Haryana, for instance, has sought police verification of those who have applied to be official cow protectors.
“We got a list of people who genuinely care about protection of cows. Those names have been given to the police for verification. We have received reports from nine districts and are awaiting reports from others,” said Bhani Ram Mangla, chairman of the Haryana Gau Sewa Aayog.
The Aayog was set up under The Haryana Gau Seva Aayog Act, 2010 for the preservation and welfare of cows. Its main objective is to ensure total prohibition of cow slaughter.
From these nine districts, 275 people have expressed their wish to become official gau rakshaks, out of which 80 will be given the state ID cards.
When asked how will an official cow protector be different from any other on the street and will he have any special legal authority, Mangla said, he will only help the police as an informer about misdeeds in the vicinity.
And Aadhaar plays an important role here.
All official cow protectors’ Aadhaar number will be linked with their official ID card.
“They will not take the law into their hands. That is sacrosanct. PM Modi had raised this concern of rising number of attacks in the name of cow and how people are indulging in violence in the name of cow. This will be a step forward,” said Mangla.
While the exact powers of these certified gau rakshaks are yet to be put on paper, but it seems their word would be enough for the police to take action or, at least, start an investigation.
When asked about the selection criteria for becoming an official gau rakshak, Mangla said, the list of people was prepared by various volunteers associated with the Aayog and the Gou Raksha Dal of Haryana.
Plans to issue government ID cards to gau rakshaks is in the pipeline in Uttarakhand as well.
Is it right to give such sweeping powers to gau rakshaks?
“Why not? They are being backed by the government. Police must act on their information. That should be within the ambit of the gau rakshaks who get government ID cards. If the police refuse to take necessary action, these volunteers can come to us. We will ask the requisite authorities why action was not taken,” said a senior official at the Uttarakhand Gau Sewa Aayog on condition of anonymity.
“This plan was discussed in our meeting last week too. We are working closely with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) which will forward the names to us. So we are awaiting the list from their end. Work is going on,” the official added.
The SPCA exists in almost every district of the country and the units are headed by the respective district magistrates.
At the time of filing of this report, News18 could not get details from other states, but according to sources, most BJP-ruled states may have official gau rakshaks before Diwali.
The legality of the move, however, remains to be seen.
“This seems more like a political move. If they are within the jurisdiction of the law, the respective state laws will have to be examined properly to see under which provision this move fits into,” said constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap.