‘We will hang those who kill cows’


By Lewis Isaacs, SBS Dateline (Australia)

Apr 10, 2019


To many Hindus in India, cows are a sacred symbol. They must be revered and protected. To harm or kill them is unthinkable.


While killing cows is illegal in most states of the country, there is a lot of money to be made exporting cows for slaughter – in fact, India is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of beef.


A recent report from Human Rights Watch details how 44 Indians  – 36 of them Muslims and the others from minority groups – were killed between May 2015 and December 2018 by Hindus with a mission to protect cows.  A further 280 people were injured.


Jayshree Bajoria of Human Rights Watch, who published the report “Violent Cow Protection in India: Vigilante Groups Attack Minorities”, told Dateline the attacks are not a simple reflection of a growing animal rights movement, but an attack on minorities propagated by India’s ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 


Examples of Remarks Made by Officials on Cow Protection


“We should not take law into our hands. But we have no regret over [a cattle herder’s death] because those who are cow smugglers are cow-killers; sinners like them have met this fate earlier and will continue to do so.”

  –Gyan Dev Ahuja, BJP lawmaker, Rajasthan state.


“There is only one way to protect Indian culture: to protect gau (cows), Ganga, and (goddess) Gayatri…Only the community that can protect this heritage will survive. Otherwise there will be a huge crisis of identity, and this crisis of identity will endanger our existence.”

–Adityanath, BJP chief minister, Uttar Pradesh state.


“We will hang those who kill cows”

- Raman Singh, Former Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh state.


While the BJP-ruled states have passed stricter laws prohibiting the killing of cows and adopted cow protection politicies, Bajoria says the vigilante groups are operating without a sense of consequence thanks to the partisan environment.


“This is not about sacred cows. This is targeted. Cows are an emotive issue. While illegal cattle smuggling is an issue, these vigilantes are really targeting minorities. They’re vilifying the community. This is part of a larger problem we’re seeing in India. When it comes to dictating who you love and what you eat, they’re basic freedoms,” says Bajoria.


“Usually these groups are made of young Hindu men and they patrol the highways at night, often with police,” she added. “They will check trucks if they are carrying cattle and if there are cows – even if they are legitimately purchased – sometimes they will beat the driver and the cattle traders. Sometimes even killing them...


more, including video report [1:07 min.]