India: The Sacred Cow Question

May 09, 2017

The recent victory of the Hindu nationalist party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a few weeks ago has revived the “war of the cow” in a country that is more and more prone to religious conflict. Religious attacks and murders are multiplying in the country.

In 2014, Narendra Modi became the leader of India, and ever since, occasionally violent incidents with cows – a sacred animal in the Hindu religion – have been multiplying. This symbolic issue is an obsession with the Hindu extremists, who are influential in the BJP, the nationalist Party that has taken over. Last March, an electoral tidal wave for this party boosted the confidence of the protectors of the cows. The initiatives are coming at a steady pace: reinforcing legislation in favor of the sacred animal, intensifying restrictions on bovine butchery, and attacking the members of Christian and even Muslim minorities accused of not respecting the sacred animal.

The latest incident to date ended a few weeks ago in Rajasthan with the death of Pehlu Khan, a 55-year-old Muslim farmer who died of his wounds after being beaten by a militia of radical Hindus; on the highway of Alwar, almost 200 Hindus intercepted Muslim cattle drivers, who tried in vain to prove that they were transporting cattle legally.

These sorts of attacks and murders are common in the country. In the past two years, how many Christians or Muslims have been lynched by crowds in similar incidents, suspected of having eaten beef or sold cattle? The militias of “cow defenders” that are developing and that go by different names are often closely involved with radical organizations of the Sangh Parivar, the great family of Hindu nationalism that has the BJP for its political wing and “moderate” front. Their objective is clear: the defense of the “Hindutva”, that pagan ideology whose vision is an Indian nation founded solely on  Hindu culture and religion.

This is a far cry from the irenicism suggested by the Second Vatican Council in its declaration Nostra Aetate, which states that “non-Christian religions (…) often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.”

Source: EDA – FSSPX. News – 5/8/17