A protection of cows or Gau Raksha is inherent to northern and central Indian societies. Its origin dates back to Ashoka’s Era. The cow was made central to the survival of Indian societies because it was considered a one-stop solution to fulfill all the human needs. To some extent, this belief stands ground as cow provides nutritious milk, cow dung is believed to possess antibacterial and anti-viral properties. Considering cow’s such utilities, our forefathers might have declared it as sacred for its preservation and protection.
However, one aspect of cow disturbed the entire scheme of societal views towards it – the deliciousness of its meat called beef. Pro cow protection lobby, our Gau Rakshaks, are of the view that their sacred animal is being slaughtered for consumption of its meat only. Though, they didn’t consider the fact that like any living being cows too have their lactating utility life. In case old cows are used for consumption they are still justifying their existence as ultimate provider. Since this is agitating the majoritarian community, a need was felt by the government of the day to issue guidelines for protection of these animals and its preservation. Ceteris paribus, the thought was noble. The thing deteriorated because the auto-implementation of these guidelines seemed ineffective in implantation.
It was this perceived failure of the system which instigated a section of society to take the things in their hand and proclaim themselves as lone protector of cows, nee the gau rakshaks. Whenever they found any violation, they violently reacted to the situation even going to the extent of taking law into their own hands.
Section 13 of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act reads: “…no suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings shall be instituted against any person for anything which is in good faith or intended to be done under this Act or the rules made thereunder”. There exists similar legislation in six states of our country. Such legislation, then, provide safe haven to the ones work for the protection of cows and shelters those who do. In the incidents related to cow protection, when the vigilantes’ ethics run on the philosophies of the ones who are in majority, it gets difficult to bring such groups under control when they act in ‘good faith’.
There is a need to sensitize all section of society to understand each other’s need and respect the sentiments too. If there is a law to protect any mob against charges of violence in their effort to save cows from such ‘violators’, there should be provisions to restrain such acts. Provisions may not exist in the form of law but it can be defined through community code of conduct.
There is no sanity in killing a human being to save an animal because its human beings which make society, animals are just incidental to it.
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