In India, a dead cow is more precious than the life of a Dalit or Muslim

Published: July 28, 2016

An image can be a commentary on the state of affairs. The image of the four Dalit men stripped down and beaten with sticks for trying to skin a dead cow, by the alleged Hindu fanatic group in Una – a town in the western Indian state of Gujarat – narrates a very sorry state of affairs for India today.

Members of Gau Rakshak Sena (Cow Protection Army) not only humiliated the members of the socially marginalised Dalit community, but, in a brazen manner, they made a video of the whole episode to show off their temerity to act without fear. They know that the government cannot arrest them because the party holds power in the state and New Delhi supports such vigilante groups.

Also, a recent incident where a Muslim woman was thrashed by Hindu right wing radicals for allegedly possessing beef in Madhya Pradesh reveals a very disturbing story of India, a country which aspires to be a leading nation in the global arena.

These kinds of incidents were unheard of in India before May 2014. People were not killed or beaten for eating beef or trading in cattle skin. But today in India, under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, a dead cow is more precious than the life of a Dalit or a Muslim. Ever since the Hindu right wing party has come to power, under the leadership of Narendra Modi two and half years ago, social and religious tensions have increased in the country.

The cow vigilante group has not only killed and beaten Muslim men merely based on suspicions of carrying cows or eating cow meat, but they have also pushed the Dalits to a corner, and many of them make a living from selling cow skin. Hindu sensitivity towards cows is not new; there have always been debates on the issue, but they have never led to a bitter and a deadly schism between communities.

However, times have changed.

It is a clear sign of creeping majoritarianism in the country. The incident that took place in Una last week is an unequivocal signal to the world that majoritarianism is the guiding principle of the Modi regime, and secularism does not mean anything for the present dispensation.

The signal was quite clear in the early days of the Modi regime when the Hindu radicals launched ‘Love Jihad’—a boorish attempt to stop the interactions between the Hindu and Muslim boys and girls. Then a program called ‘Ghar Wapsi’ was initiated which was meant to forcefully reconvert the Muslims who left the Hindu faith generations ago.

The ban on eating beef and meat in Mumbai was meant to convert secular India into a Hindu state. These are obvious attempts at making India a Hindu majoritarian state.

The attempt to tamper with history points towards a similar intent.

History textbooks clearly state that during ancient times, Indians used to serve cattle meat to guests and it was an important delicacy during the Vedic period (c 1500 – c 500 BCE). This information comes from one of the sacred ancient scriptures. But the Hindu regime wants to sanitise history and teach young minds only the parts that glorify Hindus and side-line the Islamic contributions to the Indian way of life. We all know the consequences of teaching such sanitised history—it leads to a stinted mind-set and the radicalisation of society.

This majoritarian project runs counter to the oft repeated mantra of development by the Indian prime minister. Modi talks big, he wants to make India one of the most successful and prosperous countries in the world. But his words sound vacuous when India is confronted by cases of lynching of a Muslim for alleged possession of beef and beating of Dalits for skinning a dead cow.

It’s interesting that Modi never reacts to incidents that shame Indian society. No doubt that there is a clear pattern here — Modi, for public consumption, assumes the mask of a man on a mission, but never tries to stop his party men or his followers from indulging in anti-Muslim, anti-minority, or anti Dalit acts. This duplicity clearly demonstrates that the BJP government in Delhi is working on a very clear agenda of turning the nation into a Hindu state officially.

This agenda will not make India a progressive nation, but a reactionary state. This is worrying. Already, Hindu radicals have occupied public discourse and have won favours from some of the media houses. There are some TV broadcast stations and newspapers, which are blatantly rightist and blindly support the government’s divisive agenda. This is not a good sign. It is leading to the radicalisation and polarisation of the society and the entrenchment of existing fault lines.

Today, India’s diversity is under siege by its own ruler. A reign of terror has been let loose on those who don’t agree with the Hindu right wing narrative. The ring master, Modi, who otherwise tweets on many unimportant issues, assumes a deadly silence at a time when his voice should reach out to the victims and act as a stern warning for the perpetrators of the crime.

The tragedy is that a section of the vocal media is privy to this devious project.

History tells us that when majoritarianism becomes the guiding political philosophy of any nation, it loses its soul. At a time when the world needs to adopt and promote diversity to ward off the evil of sectarianism and terrorism, India is shying away from its civilisational assets, that is—unity in diversity.

It is gradually becoming a breeding ground for Hindu terrorism. Many won’t like to use this term but the fact remains that the militant Hindu right wing group has been given a new lease of life under the Modi dispensation in Delhi. India has never been under siege before as it is now.


Sanjay Kumar

The author is a New Delhi based journalist covering South Asian and international politics. He tweets as @destinydefier (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • fze

    Sanjay, get ready for verbal lynching by your fellow country men. They can’t digest being pointed out.Recommend

  • hp kumar

    Give me one good reason mr sanjay kumar,why we should consider muslim more worthy than cow? i can present you with 100s of reason why cow is more valued than muslims .And For god sake dont bring dalits in b/w.Dalits r differnt from muslims.Present IAS topper Tina Dabi is a dalit and she is no muslim.There r often communal clash b/w muslims and dalits in india.Recommend

  • Bairooni Haath

    OK, so selling of eating Beef is illegal in more than half of India. If someone is doing this, the law should deal with them. If people are acting as Vigilantes in these cases, the law should deal with those people. In my knowledege and opinion, the law does a pretty good job in India, much better than Pakistan, Bangladesh or any Muslim majority country. The Prime Minister of India does not have to deal with every little incident. India is a nation of 1.3 Billion people. Mr Sanjay Kumar picks isolated incidents and draws broad generalizations. Mr Sanjay Kumar should get a life and move on to other topics. Secularism, Affirmative action etc. were all dealt with 70 years ago and there is a broad consensus in India. Modis election has not changed anything.Recommend

  • Rahul

    Mr. Sanjay Kumar should try travelling to Pakistan and eat Pork there. Recommend

  • S Hassan

    You want a good reason to consider Muslims more worthy while millions of you earn bread and butter and seek employment in the Middle East?Recommend

  • Ronnie

    when in Rome, do was Romans do. Eating beef is illegal in India, just like doing drugs is illegal in Indonesia, but perfectly legal in Netherlands.Recommend

  • Fawad

    One can get in life threatening trouble by just disrespecting printed pages in Pakistan, so in India if cow meat is issue, nothing different.Recommend

  • PatelPara

    tell that to Ms Irom.Recommend

  • PatelPara

    don’t show them the mirror. They cannot digest logical arguments.Recommend

  • Naveed

    Dear Rahul, In Pakistan we only Eat Hala Food, Pork is Haram for Muslims…Recommend

  • goggi (Lahore)

    In Pakistan people are thrashed, imprisoned, burnt and killed!
    We people of subcontinent should never miss watching the breathtaking and bloodcurdling serial “Crime Patrol 100” which shows our true criminal and decadent nature. Religion gives our immense criminal and destructive energy a free run!Recommend

  • john

    Let the country and the religion alone talkbon terms of science pork is hazardious to health where as cow meat is notRecommend

  • Aamir – Toronto

    @ hp kumar……of course like you will prefer a cow over a Muslim because a cow urine is more tastier than a Muslim’s urine !!!!Recommend

  • Aamir – Toronto

    @ Ronnie……check out this link

    India is projected to be the largest exporter of beef in the world in 2015 followed by Australia & Brazil……..Indians are big hypocrites !!!Recommend

  • sParthiv

    Or blowing themselves up. U forgot to mention thatRecommend

  • Maria

    It’s a good point you make. When in Rome, do as the Romans or at least respect the Romans. The majority of Indians are Hindu and the cow is a sacred animal for them. Muslims as a minority should respect the sentiments of the majority Indian population. As a Pakistani, I would not insist on eating beef in India and I would remain vegetarian while visiting there. We all have to respect that India and Pakistan are different cultures and people with different views.Recommend

  • Human

    Kumar, I see valuing a cow more than a human is being defended in a shameful manner by your fellow countrymen. The western nations, so called human rights leaders, should see this and assess their own status to be friend with such leaders.Recommend

  • whatever

    in Pakistan torn paper of a book is more precious than the lives of Hindus and Christians. In India people were only beaten but in Pakistan they were shot dead and communities have still fear for their lives.Recommend

  • Ravian

    Pig is not a sacred animal in Islam like cow is in Hinduism. Besides, if there is intolerance in Pakistan, this does not mean that it is a justification for intolerance elsewhere in the world. Having said that, I believe that if cow is sacred for Hindus, then people from other religions in India should respect the feelings of their Hindu compatriots. But there should be a mechanism where the cows are taken care off by the Hindus and they do not fall into the hands of Muslims or Dalits. As a staunch Muslim, I can assure all that by not eating cow meat, my belief is not threatened at all !!!!Recommend

  • tman


  • Arjun Singh

    Finally a sane voice, well done Mr. Kumar, I salute you.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Huh? Wha? What is the gist of this creepy comment? They don’t raise pork
    in Pakistan for public consumption. like they raise beef in Bharat for export to
    Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Philippines…etc…etc.. oh! even to Japan.
    Meaning cows, are slaughtered, skinned frozen and packed for export
    However since the Saffron Lord took control of the Vermilion Throne in Delhi,
    beef is now outlawed.?1? It’s OK to kill these cows for export for money but
    NOT OK for Muslims, Christians, Dalits and other minorities to consume
    beef, locally, in Gau Mata Land??!!?
    By the way, you can go hunt wild boar and eat it too. No vigilantes will follow you on a hunting trip, not in Pakland. They have better things to do.
    Well when there are 2 billions hindus sitting around twiddling their thumbs
    with nothing to do…… get vigilantes.Recommend


    If terrorists leave India , than there is no need for Indians to go to gulfRecommend


    What is illegal in India should not be pardoned or encouragedRecommend

  • ak

    Perhaps try reading the law 1st…BEEF is not illegal in India..killing cow for beef is in many “states” (law is by state not nation). Beef coming from India cant have cow meat else it is a crime as per law. So not sure where the hypocrisy is?

    Btw giving refuge to all the terrorists, using non-state actors as policy and then saying you are victims of terrorism does make Pakistan most hypocrite nation, no?Recommend

  • Salman

    When in Rome, do was Romans do…

    India is a secular country ? :)Recommend

  • Parvez

    Interesting read………something similar happening in Pakistan in the name of ‘ blasphemy ‘…….and ‘ honor ‘.
    When tolerance and humanity are thrown out the window and political patronage is given preference, than atrocities such as this happen.Recommend

  • Sane

    If any body eats pork in Pakistan, he/she is not reprimanded, beaten or killed.Recommend

  • Sane

    But, if any one wants to eat Haram or pork, he/she is free to do so. Pork eating person is not beaten or killed.Recommend

  • Sane

    If any one does anything illegal must be prosecuted in the courts. Does any one has the right to kill or decide the punishment and exercise that at his own. If this is so, then disband all courts and legal system in India. Let people decide about the punishment either for robbery, stealing, murder, cow eating, rape and all.Recommend

  • Sane

    You mean those terrorists who are killing Kashmiri Muslims every day or those who are killing Muslims for eating beef. Or you mean those who terrorize women specially foreigners and rape them. Being a citizen of RAPIST COUNTRY OF THE WORLD, would you enlighten us all.Recommend

  • Sane

    Their Ex PM (Murar Jee Desai) once stated that he drinks cow urine every day. They follow their leaders. Cow urine is sold in India having more cost than the cow milk.Recommend

  • Mirza Aasauf Baig

    In Pakistan, according to law, Non-Muslims can buy beer.
    similarly they can eat pork.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    Sanjay, never seen an Indian communist writing a story about how the Muslims are persecuted in China, would you shed some light on it please?

    Also, When there is absolute rule of an individual or an ideology like there is in China, Islamists and Communists tend to be sworn enemies with no place for the other but when they are in a democracy, the communists pay junior partners to Islamists.

    The bottom line is people like Sanjay Kumar will be entertained by Muslim societies as long as they mock people of other faith.

    I am just trying to imagine the story Sanjay Kumar is going to come up with when Modi loses or wins in the next general elections, either he is going to rip the people of India apart or Modi, either ways, Sanjay will remain an unhappy man.Recommend

  • jay

    In Pakistan pages of a scripture are of more value then human life ! Entire colonies of Chritisan were burned, Shama and her husband were burned alive brick oven. For every evil Indian has Pakista has double that !Recommend

  • S Hassan

    So they are going to the gulf since several decades to earn for their families back home because of terrorists? Recommend

  • S Hassan

    I don’t understand how comparing your issues with Pakistan’s issues will benefit your society? Such comparison have never solved anythingRecommend

  • goggi (Lahore)

    Hello Mr. Sanjay, either you please publish my comment as I formulated or better remove it. I assume you wrote this blog to earn your living and not for the sake of an open discussion!!!Recommend

  • Saadi

    Yes but the cases of abuse clearly show that people are being harassed and worse lynched on mere hearsay. This is problematic.Recommend

  • Saadi

    The mirror is being shown to you in this article. Obviously you and others are not liking what you see too much!Recommend

  • fze

    Why pork, why not cow meat? Recommend

  • Kajamohideen

    Big difference. Cow is sacred for Hindus. pork is unclean. Recommend

  • PatelPara


  • S Hassan

    I will repeat what I said to another person here who had the same thing to say as you. How will comparing your issues with Pakistan’s issues benefit your society?Recommend

  • hp kumar

    Mr, this is India.We treat animals at par with human.If somebody thinks that just coz he is human and can play with life of animals,certainly India is not a country for him.We have cows roaming on the streets ,monkeys on the roof,parrots and pigeons on the sides of road picking grains.we donot hurt them.Pl try to respect animals and birds in India.By hurting them,you r hurting common Indians.Recommend

  • PJ

    You all live in the same house?Recommend

  • Zoha

    you need to just have a one good reason to consider human beings, including ‘yourself’, more valuable than a cow!Recommend

  • Zoha

    A well pondered article of the time.
    India had never been a secular state. Beating Muslim community and refraining and demeaning them from their basic rights presents India as a clear Hindu nation dominated by radical Hindus – beating Muslims for possessing cow-meat comes very last.
    And Modi govt. is doing exactly what they intent to do; to promote such radical vigilante groups and excite fire in the militant bodies to contribute its vital role in vilifying and denigrating the Muslim Ummah in the whole world.
    And who can deny the current dismal state of Indian-held-Kashmir which is the consequence of exciting fire and ‘Hindu terrorism’ in these radical vigilante groups and military force.
    India has never been a secular state and it will never be unless innocuous Indians come out of the Anti-Muslim mindset.Recommend

  • Shanty