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I have been stunned by the alarming development in India’s political fiasco i.e. the rising vigilantism under the shed of cow protection inter alia the rise of gau rakshaks (“cow protectors”). But do we really need cow protectors? If yes, then what should cow protectors be protecting? If their pseudo-moral responsibility is limited to the protection of cows then how did this vigilantism resulted in the death of a human?

I’ll limit my thoughts from the perspective of Indian constitution and a rational human. The constitution of India in its Part IV provides with the directive principles of state policy (“DPSP”), wherein article 48, as reprised below states:

Article 48. … The state shall endeavour to organise agricultural and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.

 The DPSP are the directive guidelines laid down in the constitution of India’ which are not guaranteed to be enforced via court i.e. these are an unenforceable set of guidelines. These are principles in direction of which the government has to act upon. It cannot supersede or be superimposed upon the fundamental rights of the citizens of this country, which primarily includes the golden triangle summarised as:

Article 14: Equality before law: The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”

Article 19: Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech and expression-
(1) All citizens shall have the right-
(a) to freedom of speech and expression;
(b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;
(c) to form associations or unions;
(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;
(e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India”

Article 21: Protection of life and personal liberty: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”

Upholding of the above fundamental rights and civil rights of the citizens comes as a prima facie responsibility of the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. Ironically, instead of upholding the rights of the women and minorities (those in dire need) we have drifted to a different path.

No, I am not against the conservation, preservation of the cow as a species, but it cannot be made a manifesto to supersede the primary rights of a human being.  But in this process, what becomes of a cow protector?

The first step towards the protection of the cows, calves or any cattle for one’s sake, is to ensure the upbringing of the cows of different breeds, and that they are well nurtured (not on plastic), the diversity is well protected, allowed to proliferate in their environment (not on roads), and are conserved. These are only possible when the entire biodiversity of the country is conserved, preserved and allowed to flourish. Any other form of protection blatantly violating the fundamental rights of the people is nothing short of vigilantism. This country is not a mere democracy, it is “a democratic republic of India” in spirit and soul which is meant for upholding the rights of the people- including those in minority.

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