11, Oct 2015
They waylay trucks, set them on fire, beat up ‘offenders’, all in the name of the holy cow.
Written by Abhishek Angad , Ankita Dwivedi Johri
Updated: Oct 11, 2015, 9:03
On most weekdays, 25-year-old Akhilesh Singh goes to work at a Central telecom firm in Sahibabad in Ghaziabad, a district in Uttar Pradesh on the border with Delhi, where he is employed as a junior engineer. He has a degree in engineering and a Master’s in social work. But while the job pays his bills, it is his role as a member of the Yuva Jagaran Chetna Kendra, an organisation that works for “cow protection”, that has given him a “purpose in life”.
“Sirf gai ko hi kyon kaatna hai and aur aaj ka yuva kaise keh sakta hai ki farq nahin padta? (Why do we need to slaughter just the cow and how can today’s youth say it doesn’t matter?),” he says while taking a round of the Arya Samaj gaushala in Ghazipur village in east Delhi. Akhilesh and “hundreds of members” of his group are in charge of spreading awareness about the cow, preventing its slaughter and illegal trade in east Delhi, a job he takes very seriously. “We are bringing sanskaar (values) back into society. Cow is our mother. I have been consuming cow urine for years. It purifies your soul,” he says. He says he has a “strong network of informers” in the area, which include vegetable vendors, cobblers and rickshaw pullers who alert his group “when someone does anything against the cow”.
Akhilesh is part of a growing force of vigilantes in the capital who have defined their mission as “saving the cow”. Over 200 cow-protection groups work in the Delhi-NCR region and members like Akhilesh, educated and fluent in social media — their preferred tool to network, share text and images, and mobilise — form its backbone. They are a far cry from the flag-bearing, slogan shouting activists and most of them channelise modern-day resources to bolster their cause.
“Because of a BJP government at the Centre, groups like ours now feel empowered,” he says. Mention the August 29 incident in Chilla village in east Delhi, where 10 people were injured when five trucks carrying buffaloes from Najafgarh were attacked by residents of the village, and he gets angry. “They were not buffaloes, they were cows. It was a false report,” he says.