Cow smuggling is a serious offense and is getting increasingly popular day by day. Such is the rampant occurrence, that UP CM Yogi Adityanath has instructed the issuance of certificated to legal transporters of cattle to ensure their safety and check incidents of cattle smuggling in the state. While such measures will be implemented slowly and procedurally, the need of the hour is to spread awareness of the illegality and immorality of the situation.
However, in spite of this, several media organizations have adopted this strange narrative of normalizing the cattle smuggling. A recent instance of this was the report on the incident in Madhya Pradesh in which a group of people was transporting cows without a valid permit, thus, smuggling them to take to Maharashtra. This was reported by at least 4 leading publications as “cow transportation” when the matter actually was “cattle smuggling”. The media organizations making this blunder included, The New Indian Express, Scoopwhoop, News18 and Scroll.
Even though The New Indian Express and Scroll mention how the perpetrators were transporting them illegally as they did not have the requisite papers, the story failed to call them as “cow smugglers”, and in an attempt to normalize the deed, kept calling them “cattle transporters”.
This was after the fact that Shiv Dayal Singh, Khandwa Superintendent of Police, said, “We have booked the people ferrying the cattle without requisite permissions. We have also lodged a case against the villagers, including farmers, for ill-treating those booked for unauthorised cattle transport.”
So it clearly states that the Police agreed to the illegality of the act.
This subtle nomenclature (cattle transporter) is indicative of the attitude of these media organizations towards cow smuggling; an attitude which is often imbibed by the readers. These are the same organizations which vilify the gau rakshakas by calling them cow vigilantes. While there have been instances of violence at the behest of the gau rakshakas to prevent the illegal slaughter of cattle, the media organizations often, conveniently choose to disregard another side of the incidents. The fact of the matter is that the cow smugglers are a dangerous and violent group. They carry with them guns and weapons to stop anyone from coming in their way. And when someone does, they either physically harm them or even kill at times. Over the years, there have been plenty of incidents in which the cow smugglers killed those preventing them from stealing the cattle.
There are a number of such cases where cow smugglers were the ones committing acts of violence.
The media houses of this country are interested in the news which suit their political agenda and leanings. There was a continuous coverage or daily debates when one Pehlu Khan was allegedly attacked by self-styled Gau Rakshaks, but on the other hand, the same media forgets to cover the news of the brutal murders of Gau Rakshaks, policemen or common farmers at the hands of the cattle smugglers.
In the stories of mob lynching, the provocative role of cow smugglers is often overlooked and glossed over even though the cow smugglers have been known to be violent and many murders have been attributed to them. Still, at the end of the day, the cow smuggler somehow comes off as a victim, even though is the one committing a crime. While it is true that violence isn’t justifiable, the gau rakshakas do have the right to self defence, which extends over their property or animals. How can any individual, gau rakshak or otherwise be expected to calmly stay and watch whilst a group of people smuggle cattle for slaughtering (or any other purposes)? Moreover, the fact that they are armed and initiate violence at times is completely ignored by the media. The media, by terming cow smugglers as ‘cattle transporters’ is attempting to normalize one side of the culprits while vilifying the other.
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