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‘Where are the Gau Rakshaks?’ Tweets Digvijaya with Photo of Cows Sitting on Madhya Pradesh Highway

‘Where are the Gau Rakshaks?’ Tweets Digvijaya with Photo of Cows Sitting on Madhya Pradesh Highway

The former chief minister underscored that this was the situation on the thoroughfare with the bovines often dying in accidents; he also urged the Kamal Nath government to move the animals to cow shelters.

Bhopal: Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh has been known over the years for his attempts to milk seemingly trivial occurrences for political gamesmanship, observers say, with even members of his own party sometimes feeling the pinch. So when the former Member of Parliament (MP) on Friday tweeted a photograph showing stray cows nonchalantly sitting on a highway in Madhya Pradesh, with words in Hindi to the effect of: “Where are the gau rakshaks (cow protectors)?”, he left both politicians and analysts wondering who was actually in the firing line.

Observers say instances of so-called cow vigilantism have risen since the Narendra Modi government first came to power in 2014, with groups claiming to be protecting the bovines – considered sacred by many Hindus – resorting to seizing them from alleged smugglers and thieves, and occasionally beating up those transporting cattle. Incidents of people, many of them Muslims and Dalits, being brutally assaulted or even lynched over suspicion of cow theft or slaughter have also witnessed a spurt, they state. Right-wing groups, on the other hand, have alleged violence and killings by cattle traffickers, and BJP-led governments in several states have also tightened rules in support of cow protection and against slaughter as well as smuggling. In states like Madhya Pradesh, Congress governments too have followed suit, in an apparent bid to assuage the Hindu community.

On Friday morning, Digvijaya tweeted the image of stray cows gathered on the Bhopal-Indore highway, underscoring that this was the situation on the thoroughfare with the bovines often dying in road accidents.

Singh also demanded that the state’s Kamal Nath government immediately shift these animals to a cow sanctuary or a gaushala (cow shelter).

“Kamal Nath ji, if you could do this, you would feature among true gau bhakts,” said the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister in another tweet, adding that the act would also offer a lesson to BJP leaders.

Digvijaya, who lost the 2019 Lok Sabha election from Bhopal to rabble-rousing Hindu leader and terror accused Pragya Thakur from the BJP, has frequently struck out at avowed cow protection outfits.

The Kamal Nath government had announced plans to establish 1,000 modern cowsheds across the state after coming to power.

Commenting on the tweets, Congress spokesperson Bhupendra Gupta said that Digvijaya’s remarks weren’t targeted at the state government, which is busy implementing cow-protection measures. He said that the former CM had shown the mirror to “fake cow bhakts” who despite being in power for 15 years in the state “could not build any new gaushalas”.

The BJP too hit out at the Congress over the tweets.

MLA Rameshwar Sharma alleged that no work had been done on cow protection as announced by the Kamal Nath government. He also claimed that after the Congress coming to power, hundreds of cows have died in cow shelters.