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Cow Vigilante Groups in Nuh & Gurugram Apply For Arms Licenses, Seek Government Support

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Cow vigilante groups in Nuh, Gurugram, are applying for licenses to arm themselves, alleging that attacks on them have been increasing recently.

A group of men, suspected to be cattle transporters, opened fire at a trader in Nuh’s Bisaru village early on Tuesday, June 25, The Times of India reported.

Daya Ram (42), who was allegedly attacked, is a trader actively involved with various cow vigilante groups. The vigilante groups have been asked to apply for licenses in bulk and have requested state government assistance, citing increased attacks by cattle transporters.

The Tribune reported that Shrikant Mewati, in charge of a cow vigilante group in Mewat, stated, “Attacks have increased. The cattle smugglers were lying low, but after the recent Lok Sabha elections, they are suddenly back in action, and this time with more might. The threat to ‘gau-rakshaks’ has increased. We have issued an alert to all our members to be cautious and to procure an arms license for security. The police have assured us that they will nab the accused, but we need to have a strategy to protect our men.”

Vigilante groups cited by the Tribune said they have managed to secure 90 licenses since the Nuh riots but are still in need of more.

According to The Wire, Nuh, a Muslim-majority district, was the site of communal violence last year, resulting in at least seven deaths and damage to properties. One contributing factor to the violence was reportedly a video featuring self-proclaimed cow vigilante Monu Manesar, accused of attempted murder and arrested in September. He was granted bail in January.

There are reports that Muslim residents of Nuh say that incidents of cattle-related lynchings and fear of cow vigilantism have shrunk the once-popular cattle trade in the district.

The Caravan reported that since the BJP came to power in Haryana in October 2014, the state has emerged at the forefront of bovine politics, with stricter laws against cow slaughter being introduced and funding for cow-protection initiatives being increased.

The Gau Raksha Dal (GRD) currently operates branches in nine Indian states and two union territories, including Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, and Delhi. In Haryana, the GRD is particularly prominent, boasting branches in all 21 districts and over 5,000 volunteers, primarily aged between 18 and 40. Since 2011, armed GRD volunteers have conducted nightly patrols along state highways, with two to three teams assigned per district.

Numerous Hindutva groups across the country, such as the GRD, indoctrinate young men into deifying the cow and into being willing to kill or die protecting it. The groups also provide arms, funds, cars, and even salaries to these vigilantes, who then go about hunting the so-called cow smugglers.

Often, the victims of such vigilantism are outsiders to mainstream Hinduism, such as Muslims and Dalits, who do not share the religious sentiments associated with the animal.

Since gau-rakshaks are not equipped to ascertain if cows being transported are indeed meant for slaughter or whether the meat they confiscate is actually beef, these vigilante patrols are often simply an excuse for engaging in communal violence.

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