Minister, however, says that cow slaughter and beef-eating must not be be eulogised
There is no question of any sympathy for perpetrators of lynching incidents and the law will certainly take its own course in these cases, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley assured the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
At the same time, he stressed that cow slaughter or beef-eating must not be eulogised in a country where 80%-85% of the population lived in States where cow slaughter was prohibited.
“The Home Minister as well as the Prime Minister, on three different occasions, condemned these incidents. Faith in cows is a different issue and can’t be a cause for violence which [in turn] can never be a partisan issue as laws are being broken and people killed,” Mr. Jaitley said, responding to a discussion on lynchings and atrocities against Dalits and minorities.
Acknowledging that almost all parties in the House had criticised such violence, the Minister said that in every incident, the Home Ministry had called up the State government concerned to seek complete information, and people had been arrested and were still in jail. “They will all be charge-sheeted and prosecuted … there are no ifs and buts,” the leader of the Upper House asserted.
As far as cows are concerned, the Minister invoked Article 48 of the Constitution drafted by the late Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and debated in the Constituent Assembly that says the State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.
“This wasn’t proposed by Narendra Modi or Rajnath Singh. In the 1950s, most States were ruled by the Congress and barring West Bengal, the North Eastern States, Goa and Kerala, all adopted a law prohibiting cow slaughter.
“If Dr. Ambedkar was alive today and had said this, your party would have called him communal,” Mr. Jaitley said tersely to a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader, who walked out from the House after the Minister’s reply. Vice President Hamid Ansari accepted BSP chief Mayawati's resignation during the course of the day.
“Independently, just as killing a person in the name of cows has to be unequivocally condemned. Nobody should try to eulogise the fact that I see nothing wrong in cow slaughter,” Mr. Jaitley said, turning to the Congress benches.
“Holding beef melas and killing cows in public is as wrong as killing someone on a train,” he said.
While Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad explained that though he came from a State where the majority population is Muslim, the party had never suggested that cow slaughter should be allowed.
The Finance Minister took umbrage at the Opposition parties, whose representatives had spoken earlier in the discussion, for their “selective morality and conscience calls”. On instances of attacks on Dalits and weaker sections of society, the Minister said, “We owe it to ourselves to reverse that process and there are laws in place to deal with atrocities on the basis of caste.”