New Delhi: After a prod from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take action against fake gau rakshaks, the BJP government in Haryana says it is making an effort to identify the genuine ones. They may even be issued identity cards in the state, where cow slaughter is a criminal offence and a 24-hour helpline operates to prevent cattle smuggling.
Over the last few months, at least two incidents have taken place in Haryana, in which men allegedly smuggling cattle have been shot dead and members of the Gau Raksha Dal -- found in almost every district of the state -- were detained by the police.
"We have ordered police verification of cow protectors in all districts," said Bhani Ram Mangla, Haryana's Cow Welfare Commission chairperson. "This will help us distinguish cow protectors from vigilantes who break the law." The police will check if such people have any criminal backgrounds and whether they are attached with bona fide non-profits involved in cow protection, he said.
Last week, the Prime Minister spoke of cow vigilantism in blistering terms, saying most of them were anti-socials who masquerade as cow protectors. Such fake Gau Rakshaks were "dividing the nation," he said, calling upon state governments to isolate and punish them.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs had issued an advisory to states, asking them to crack down on cow protectors breaking the law.
Haryana was the first state in the country to set-up a Cow Welfare Commission and has a special police task force to monitor killing of cows and cattle smuggling. The volunteers are expected to help the Commission by reporting instances of cow killing and cattle smuggling to the police, he said.
NDTV had earlier reported how a Maharashtra government policy with similar goals failed to serve its ends. Volunteers armed with IDs as Animal Welfare Officers themselves participated in instances of cow vigilantism instead of helping prevent them.