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30 Jun 2017

Don’t kill in Gandhi’s India: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays homage to Mahatma Gandhi
 at the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad on Thursday. (PTI)
TT, New Delhi, June 29: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said killings in the name of " gau bhakti (cow worship)" was not acceptable and no one had the right to take the law into his own hands.
But the Prime Minister made no reference to either Junaid Khan, the teenager who was stabbed to death last week after being branded a "cow eater", or the systematic targeting of the Muslim community by cow vigilantes.
Junaid's father Jalaluddin Khan described as "good" Modi's decision to finally speak up but lamented the omission of his son's murder, adding that TV reporters have been prodding him to say he welcomed the Prime Minister's statement and "felt very happy."
Modi chose his home state of Gujarat and a site as well as an occasion high on symbolism - the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram - to break his silence on lynchings, saying he wanted to "say a few words and express sadness on some of the things going on".
The Prime Minister was speaking a day after a protest, Not In My Name, drew many youngsters to venues in several cities in the country. Modi spoke in Hindi but a tweet in English from his official Twitter handle, unwittingly or otherwise, included the words "in the name of".
"Killing people in the name of gau bhakti is not acceptable. This is not something Mahatma Gandhi would approve," PMO India tweeted, quoting the Prime Minister from the Gujarat event.
Addressing a public meeting, the Prime Minister spoke at length on non-violent ways of protecting the cow.
"The Indian Constitution also teaches us about cow protection. But does this give us the right to kill a person? Is this gau bhakti? Is this cow protection?" Modi asked.
While speaking out against cow vigilantism, Modi took care to lay stress on the need for cow protection and disclosed that he had been advised by Vinoba Bhave to die for the protection of cows.
Modi invoked Mahatma Gandhi and upheld the non-violent traditions of India. "This is a country which has the tradition of giving food to ants, street dogs, fish, the country where Mahatma Gandhi taught us lessons of non-violence", Modi said, wondering: "What has happened to us?"
Modi then spoke of the violent ways of society and cited the examples of how relatives vandalise hospitals and beat up doctors when a patient dies because of an unsuccessful operation, and vehicles are set on fire after road accidents.
"Nobody would have practised cow protection and cow worship more than Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave. They showed us the way to protect cows. The country will have to adopt their ways," Modi said.
"Violence has never solved any problems. There is no place for violence in our society," he added.
Gujarat is going to the polls later this year and Modi's gesture is being seen as a political move to reach out to the Dalits in the state. The last time Modi had slammed cow vigilantes was in August 2016 after Dalits in Una in Gujarat were flogged. Modi had then termed cow vigilantes "anti-social elements" who indulge in criminal activities at night and masquerade as cow protectors by day.
The Prime Minister had not made any statement when Mohammad Akhlaque was lynched in Dadri of Uttar Pradesh.

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