As cow protection manifests itself into violence, the finance minister, Arun Jaitley on Thursday stressed the government’s commitment to cracking down on cow vigilantes in Lok Sabha. He further dealt at length on the constitutional obligation for cow protection and how it was formulated under Jawaharlal Nehru even though he was “less religious than Indira Gandhi”.
Replying to a debate in Rajya Sabha on lynching and attack on Muslims and Dalits, in the name of cow protection, Jailtey warned against ‘selective morality’. “All sides have condemned violence, the prime minister has severely condemned it, in fact he has spoken about it thrice,” Jaitley said.
“There can be no justification for this violence. Our respect for cows cannot be the reason. Violence can never be a partisan issue. Right to equality and right to religious belief come with the obligation of mutual respect and tolerance…but Mr [Ghulam Nabi] Azad, ask yourself, have we twisted the definition of secularism?”
Reading out from Article 48 and harking back to the long discussions on the issue in the Constituent Assembly that tasks the state with cow protection, Jaitley said: “This is written by Babasaheb Ambedkar. If today he wrote this, Satish Mishraji’s party would be the first to call him communal.”
Mishra, the senior-most BSP MP, said his party had never questioned the constitutional obligation to cow protection. Azad pointed out that cow slaughter is not allowed in his state, J&K, despite its Muslim majority the fact that the law was passed by a Hindu king.
Jaitley said, “Independently, just as killing of a human being in the name of cow or assaulting or lynching him has to be unequivocally condemned, nobody should try, at least in areas where there is a prohibition, to eulogise the fact that I see nothing wrong in cow being slaughtered. One of your chief ministers of a prohibited state — it means where cow slaughter is prohibited — has the audacity to say, ‘Given a choice, I will eat beef’. Congress workers said in front of television cameras I will show how a cow is slaughtered and then have a festival. By doing this they do as much damage to the country as the gau rakshak on a train.”