Hours after four men were brutally assaulted by a mob in western Uttar Pradesh on suspicion of cattle theft, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said his state was ready to protect everyone - man or cow. But such incidents, he added, were being given "unnecessary importance" because of the Congress' intentions to "make mountain of a molehill".
Humans and cows both should be protected, because "Humans are important and cows are also important. Both have their own roles in nature," said the saffron-clad head of Gorakhnath temple, who is known to begin his day with "gau seva" (looking after the cows) when he is in the temple town.
Starting with the mob killing of 52-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri in 2015, Uttar Pradesh has so far witnessed 11 instances of mob attacks, reported data journalism website Indiaspend. The last of these took place this morning in Hathras district, nearly 400 km from state capital Lucknow.
The four men, who were transporting a dead buffalo, were accused of stealing the animal and were saved only by the timely intervention of policemen, who persuaded the mob to let the law decide. The attack took place amid a backlash over the killing of a 28-year-old man in Rajasthan's Alwar last week over suspicions of cattle smuggling.
Amid demands for a law against mob violence - supported, among others, by the Supreme Court - the Centre has repeated its stand that law and order is a state subject and it was a state government's responsibility to protect the life and property of its citizens.
In an interview with news agency ANI today, the Yogi Adityanath said his government will provide protection to everyone. "But it is the responsibility of every individual, every community and every religion to respect each other's sentiments," he said.
Taking a leaf out of Rajnath Singh's book, Yogi Adityanath also hit out at the Congress, citing the violence in 1984 after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
"These incidents are given unnecessary importance. If you talk about mob lynching, what was 1984? The Congress' intention of making a mountain of a molehill won't be successful," he said.