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home > News/Analysis  >India: Holy Cow
India: Holy Cow
Lynching of Dalits and Conversion Politics

India: Holy Cow Controversy

At the India Economic Summit in Delhi last November, an economist drew attention to the fact that cows in Europe lived on two dollars a day, twice as much as Indians below the poverty line get to spend.

Holy cow! Look what they’re talking about
By Tavleen Singh, The Indian Express, February 23, 2003

  • Beefing up hysteria
    Beware the dangerous fall-out of competitive Hindutva
    Editorial, The Indian Express, February 22, 2003

  • Untouchability, The Dead Cow And The Brahmin
    B.R. Ambedkar, 1948
    Excerpted from Chapters 11 to 14 of B.R. Ambedkar’s 1948 work The Untouchables: Who Were They and Why They Became Untouchables? as reprinted in Volume 7 of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, published by Government of Maharashtra 1990. Copyright: Secretary, Education Department, Government of Maharashtra

    A Brahmin's Cow Tales
    Sheela Reddy,, September 17, 2001

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    Analysis / News

  • Storm over move to ban cow killings
    By Praful Bidwai, Asia Times, August 19, 2003
    NEW DELHI - Faced with uncertain prospects in elections to five state legislatures due within three months, India's pro-Hindu coalition is bringing in a bill in the national parliament to ban the killing of cows and win the sympathies and votes of Hindus, but this is likely to stir a hornet's nest.

  • Rites of Passage
    Editorial, The Times of India, January 22, 2003
    It might well be that Mr Cooper was in technical breach of visa restrictions. But it’s equally clear that the decision to invoke the technical clause was motivated by reasons other than the bona fide one of upholding the law. A sign of our growing intolerance, it also implicitly amounts to a post-facto rationalisation of the earlier attack.

  • Conversion Bill: After Cong, it’s BJP’s turn
    Rajiv Shah, Times News Network, January 21, 2003
    GANDHINAGAR: While the Narendra Modi ministry braces itself up to have a look at the initial draft of the controversial religious conversion Bill, at its weekly meeting here on Wednesday, records of the legislative assembly show that it was the Congress which had brought the first such legislation 30 years back.

  • Blind to ordinary deaths
    Swami Agnivesh/Valson Thampu, The Hindustan Times, January 13, 2003
    Deaths due to cold or starvation should be deemed a darker blot on the State than the toll of terrorism. They are predictable and preventable. We know who are the enemies and where the victims are. We have the resources required to avert these tragedies. But nothing is done and the toll continues to rise.

    That leaves us with only one inference: we have no intrinsic value for human life unless it is embellished by caste or class labels. That is why five Dalits in Jhajjar can be brutally ill treated and lynched, allegedly for refusing to bribe policemen, and this barbarity can be dressed up in communal costumes.

  • Fear is the key
    By Suresh Nambath, The Hindu, December 29, 2002
    EVERY TIME they want to participate in a local temple festival, every time they want to walk with footwear or cycle through upper-caste areas, in short, every time they try to assert themselves, Dalits in Tamil Nadu risk being beaten up. But they rarely prefer a complaint. For, more often than not, the police too are on the side of the upper castes.

  • Converted to Christianity
    The Hindu, December 26, 2002
    Meerut Dec. 25. About 125 Dalits, including 15 women and five children, today converted to Christianity during a special Christmas prayer at a church. The conversion of the Dalits from Sikhara village of the district, led by one Dharam Pal Saini, was held at St. Joseph Cathedral here.

  • The rise of Modi
    By Kancha Ilaiah, The Hindu, December 26, 2002
    The BJP made serious efforts, much more than other parties, to include and accommodate the OBCs so as to provide Hindutva its muscle power.

  • Conversion Bill
    Balbir K Punj, The Times of India, December 19, 2002
    The adoption of an anti-conversion law by the Tamil Nadu assembly has evoked sharp reactions, both from self-proclaimed secularists and those whom they denounce as communalists.

  • Choosing Their Religion
    Soma Wadhwa, S. Anand, Charubala Annuncio, Sutapa Mukerjee,, November 18, 2002
    Rebelling against their baggage of birth, Dalits across India are converting from Hinduism to better their lives. Do they achieve their dreams? The answer is not simple.

  • "Dalits Are Treated Worse Than Animals, Dogs, Snakes"
    Davinder Kumar,, November 18, 2002
    Interview: Ever since he floated the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations in 1997, Udit Raj has become the most visible Dalit face in the country. The Indian Revenue Service officer's formula of mobilising educated Dalits has been enormously successful. His embracing Buddhism last year and subsequent mass conversion drives have given a major political spin to his movement. He speaks to Davinder Kumar about why conversion is the only political tool the Dalits have to fight for their rights.

  • Anti-conversion Bill unjustified: AIDWA
    By Our Staff Reporter, The Hindu, November 12, 2002
    Madurai Nov. 11 . The Bill banning forcible conversions will affect the rights of minorities and Dalits ensured in the Constitution, the State Council of the All-India Democratic Women's Association has said.

  • Set house in order before inviting guests
    Why my community’s response to Jayalalithaa’s new law is wrong
    Andalib Akhter, The Indian Express, November 11, 2002

    The Jayalalithaa government’s new law has revived the debate over conversions. In fact, her move has had alarming consequences, with minority groups taking to the streets in protest. To add fuel to fire, some vocal political supporters of minorities have gone to the extent of venting their ire on Hinduism in vituperative terms. Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi’s utterances, for instance, are most unfortunate. His remarks may fetch him temporary political mileage, but it will in no way help minorities.

  • Buddha’s smile
    Amit Sengupta, The Hindustan Times, November 7, 2002
    As an Indian ‘secularist dog’, thanks to my upper caste credentials, I don’t have to skin a dead cow for a living.

    Nor are my ‘community members’ not allowed to enter temples or stopped from drinking water from village wells, or forced to use a ‘marked’ cup in the local tea-shop, or made to eat human excreta as divine punishment. Nor are women of my caste routinely stripped and paraded naked as a public spectacle, if not raped by a collective jury. Besides, our little children are not beaten to death, as in the killing fields of the Ranvir Sena’s Bihar, because they might turn out to be ‘rebel snakes’ when they grow up, demanding social dignity and the right to vote.

  • A carnival gone wrong
    By Dipankar Gupta, The Hindu, November 8, 2002
    In true carnival-inspired disturbances the existing norms of society are supposed to undergo thoroughgoing reversals... Instead, in Jhajjar, the deepest and most established biases of dominant castes came to the fore.

  • Conversion politics - II
    By P. Radhakrishnan, The Hindu, November 07, 2002
    When the state has hardly any concern for the Dalits, and they are still victims of untouchability and social ostracism, why should it be a stumbling block to their regeneration with the help of other religions?  (Read Conversion Politics I)

  • 'Holy' Cow And 'Unholy' Dalit
    The bovine becomes divine, the cow becomes 'mother', the untouchables get dehumanised.
    S. Anand,, November 06, 2002

    The dalits account for 165 million of India’s one billion-plus human population. The population of cows is pegged at 206 million. There are more cows than dalits in India. The cows, therefore, have more rights than dalits. For instance, you can kill dalits before thousands of witnesses and get away with it. But the imagined murder of a cow will not be suffered. The state promotes the drinking of cow urine and dung, while dalits are forced to eat the shit and piss of caste Hindus.

  • Jats Close Ranks
    A Maha Cover-Up In Jhajjar
    Dipankar Gupta, November 07, 2002

    On the evening of Dussehra, five Dalits were killed on a dusty track near village Dulina, Jhajjar district, Haryana. The police are duty-bound to investigate and charge those who were responsible for these deaths. In this case, the option of folding up the case as an unsolved one does not exist as the killers were part of the mob that lynched the Dalits in full view of the police.

  • Conversion politics - I
    By P. Radhakrishnan, The Hindu, November 6, 2002
    In the context of secularism and religious pluralism, conversions are legitimate, well within the Constitutional provisions, and entirely a personal affair of the citizens.

  • The Leap Of Faith
    The Jhajjar lynchings set off aftershocks in the form of a spate of political conversions.
    Ranjit Bhushan,, November 11, 2002

    "We pick up the dead cows. The moral guardians of society and the benign upper castes never show up when a cow dies."

  • ‘You call us fundamentalists, we are actually reformists’
    Pravin Togadia's interview with Tavleen Singh, The Indian Express, November 5, 2002
    Five Dalits may have been lynched in Jhajjar but that has nothing to do with caste or the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, says Pravin Togadia, the organisation’s general secretary. And the post-lynching conversions are a “conspiracy” to convert “harijans”. Concluding excerpts from an interview with Tavleen Singh.

  • Rage Is The Answer
    Mahesh Bhatt,, October 31, 2002
    While the entire nation seemed to be immersed in the Saga of Salman Khan and the fate of his victims, not many seemed to be aware that only a hundred kilometres from our capital, the clock had turned back to the Stone Age.

  • They hope cash will bridge the caste divide here
    Trade hit as workers, buyers stay away, caste no bar here
    Sankarshan Thakur, The Indian Express, November 2,2002

    Jhajjar, November 1: For more than a fortnight now, nobody has dared set out to scavenge for dead cattle in the district; the Jhajjar lynching has sent a scare rippling among dalits—the community involved in the business of hiding of tanning—and even though theirs is an entirely above-board occupation, they have been panicked into suspending their trade.

  • Reforming Hinduism From Within
    Swami Agnivesh,, October 30, 2002
    It is a great pity that the radical spiritual legacy that Swami Dayanand enunciated as the Arya Samaj movement more than a century ago could not be nurtured into a source of empowerment for the Dalits.

  • The Parivar’s hate campaign: politics as abuse
    By Praful Bidwai, Daily Times - Pakistan, October 31, 2002
    The government must strictly apply hate-speech laws like Section 153(A) of the IPC and the SC-ST Prevention of Atrocities Act to members of the sangh parivar. It must not cave in to Mr Thackeray’s hollow threats to set Mumbai “on fire”...The state must summon the will to book these dangerous fanatics — in the interest of the nation, the Constitution, indeed the Establishment itself. If it fails this test, it will only invite disgrace — from the wider world and its own citizens.

  • The Saga of the Holy Cow
    Yahoo Group - India Thinks Net, October 28, 2002
    The cow has no politics.But there is a class in India which thrive on 'cow politics'. Having no other relevant issue take up,they have picked on the poor old cow which knows nothing of this. For in the name of the cow,5 Dalit boys were lynched to death by the fascist Manuvaadis of Hindutva.The high priest of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad held that the life of the cow was more important than that of the Dalits.The martyrdom of the Dalits at the hands of the 'gau-bhakts' led to the families of the Dalit martyrs and 100 other families to abandon Hinduism and convert to Buddhism.

  • Relatives of two Dalit victims say we didn’t convert;Udit Raj says they’re under pressure
    Express News Service, The Indian Express, October 28, 2002
    Gurgaon, October 28: A day after ‘‘converting’’ to Buddhism at a public function here, the families of two of the Dalits killed in the Jhajjar lynching said today they weren’t aware that it was a conversion ceremony.

  • Holy cow, holy war
    By Swami Agnivesh and Valson Thampu, The Hindustan Times, October 19, 2002
    The brutal massacre of five citizens is bad enough. What is absolutely shocking is the fact that they were hijacked from police custody and lynched. It raises a host of questions that cry out for answers.

  • Dalits under siege
    Praful Bidwai, The Hindustan Times, October 03, 2002
    It is a sour irony of this society that Dalit leader and UP Chief Minister Mayawati should move towards consolidating her spectacularly opportunist alliance with the BJP, the quintessential party of her bete noire, Manuvad, just as pro-Hindutva scales are falling off the eyes of a small but significant section of Dalits right next door, in Rajasthan.