Cow Rally at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan: Humanists or Hate-Mongers? Let the Readers Decide

Jagpreet L By Jagpreet L, 27th Feb 2016 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>News>Off Beat

The piece is a first-hand account of the people participating in a rally in support of cattle protection laws in India-- on February 28, 2016.

Cow Rally at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan: Humanists or Hate-Mongers? Let the Readers Decide

He is a jean-clad 23-year-old, in love with a woman two years older than him. She is far ahead of him in education and earnings, belongs to a different region and caste. Her parents do not approve of him. Marriage between them is a far cry, the tears are close to the pillow, sometimes, in my ears.
“Main dil mein aata hun, samajh mein nahin.” This Salman Khan dialogue from Kick is his mobile phone caller tune.
He likes to gym, and strains his eyes in the mirror every other day to see if the biceps are a wee bit bigger and tighter than what he saw the previous day.
Meet Gopal Kumar, who had a short stint as a Sepoy in the Jat Regiment of the Indian Army until 2012, where he, along with six others, was court-majored. Here is the story as I heard from Gopal:
One afternoon, a Muslim Major held out a 2-kilogram food packet to a Sepoy in his duty, asked him to keep it in the car. The food was beef that the Major had bought from one of those shady places. The Sepoy not only refused the Major’s order but hotly argued with him. The Major was naturally offended and took him to task. When they were all present at a session, the Sepoy raised the matter again, the Major called him the choicest names; the Sepoy held the Major by the collar and the matter became serious enough to reach the Brigadier. Due punishment was given to both sides as per the rules. The Major, however, was smarting under the insult and got the Sepoy and six of his friends roughed up. Gopal was one of the friends. The seven of them stole up to the Major’s room one night and bashed him up.
The Major faced suspension for six months, four of the seven Sepoys were re-instated after a court battle, Gopal and two others were sacked and went back home to Haryana.
The mother of one friend is a devout Hindu. Her knowledge of the infallible divine laws is better than that of the Indian Penal Code. She was happy that her son had upheld dharma and sorry that the Major was still alive-- after having dared to ask her son to hold beef! She was also confused why the son, not the Major, lost his job.
A few months later, the sacked Sepoy got a job in the Border Security Force (BSF). He was posted in Rajasthan. There, he saved thousands of cattle as he saw them being smuggled regularly in trucks and on foot. Not long afterwards, in November 2013, the cattle mafia got him killed through their man in the BSF, which was described as a case of accidental firing in the official records.
Gopal is not “as lucky” as his friend, he says. “The friend’s mother was at least proud of her son and encouraged him to do gau-raksha.”
“mujhe ghar mein gaali aur bahar goli milti hai.” (I get abuses at home and bullets, outside)
He is into rescue work fulltime, but his parents are totally against him doing this “useless” and “risky” work.
He was shot at by the cattle-smugglers during a rescue operation in August 2014 and his friend was killed last December during another.
Along with scores of thousands of young men, Gopal is sitting somewhere in Ramlila Maidan today, listening to the sant samaj with hope in his heart.
He equates the cow with god and nation, and I, as an animal welfare activist, have seen first-hand his do-or-die dedication to the rescue work—from the road and police station to the court and gaushala.
Gopal is excited that he would get a chance to fast for the cause.
There are other cow-lovers in this rally I know personally but not as well as I do Gopal:
A 40-year-old practitioner of Ayurveda from Balod in Chhattisgarh, who has a gaushala, a special bond with the stray cattle he feeds on the road and who sometimes gets calls from professional veterinary doctors when they need a “healing touch” for the cattle and monkeys in their care. Ashok is a devotee of Lord Hanuman.
A young and glowing face on a stick-like body, Gopal ji is a cow-lover from Haryana, who has renounced the material. He fasted for a record 60 days to have cow slaughter stopped, which goes on all over the country in absolute violation of the laws. Gopal ji has a guru with whom he spends a lot of time in Haridwar.
Then there are the followers of a Jain monk of the unclad sect, who, in 2002, stormed into an illegal slaughter house in Mumbai with a 10,000-strong mob of men and women to force it shut. They succeeded. They work for the cause from Belgaum in Karnataka to Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh.
Krishna Das is a saffron-clad Hindu cow devotee from Odisha, who in a public demonstration against cow-smuggling and slaughter many years ago, cut his own finger. He is in his 50s but still goes from village to village on his motorbike to raise awareness against cow-slaughter.
Dr. Satish Swain is an intellectual and linguist, author of 50 books, whom his friends and admirers call “The Old Lion”. When he was young, he fixed scores of smugglers and butchers with his bare hands, I am told.

Risky Rescues

In today’s rally, there is also a 37-year-old Sachin from Bihar, who, along with ten gau-rakshaks, escaped death by swords and petrol bombs at the hands of a hired mob of the cattle mafia. This was on the Odisha-Jharkhand border in the November of 2014. They had rescued more than 300 cattle being smuggled on foot.
One of these ten men got my telephone number from an Odisha volunteer and asked if I could call the Tiring PS in Mayurbanj district to get an FIR booked, and to have the cattle sent to a shelter as per the law. Forget about saving the cattle, which were literally snatched out of police custody by the smugglers. The mob laid a siege to the PS for ten hours and threatened to burn the rescuers alive to “teach them a lesson”. As the rescuers emerged from the PS with police escort and took the road, five kilometres away, they faced another mob of hundreds-- armed with swords and petrol bombs. The Jharkhand police reached the spot just in time and asked the Tiring PS police and rescuers to drive back into Odisha.
It was the “Most Scary” situation the rescuers had ever faced. A rescuer by default, the driver of a hired auto-rickshaw with them, was brutally beaten up.
As usual, no case was booked against the smugglers. The experience left the rescuers traumatised and they apparently gave up the work.
I wrote to the Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar about this case but he did not care a fig.
About seven months later, In June 2015, I got a call from Sachin: “Didi, do you remember the rescue on the Odisha-Jharkhand border? I was among the rescuers,” he said, as he told me the rest of the story:
The near-death he faced at the hands of the cattle mafia was a turning point in his life. He gave up his job, mobilised moral and material support for the cause, equipped himself with a couple of SUVs, licensed weapons, hired gunmen and took to gau-raksha fulltime.
He went back to the spot where he had been attacked and got his chance to square up with the mafia, that being a regular route. He said he found the revenge liberating:
“Bhay se mukti mil gayi. Ab na marne, na maarne se dar lagta hai. Marunga to beesson taskron ko mar ke. Gai aur desh ko bachana hai, kisi bhi keemat par.”
(I feel liberated from fear. Now, I am neither scared of dying nor of killing. If I die, it would be after killing scores of smugglers. The cow and nation have to be saved at all costs)
Later, in the run-up to Eid when the smuggler routes are choked with trucks, Sachin did many rescues in his typical style. In between, he also sought help from the SP, whom he described as a “very good man”. With police help, he raided a kasai gali in his town and rescued 250 cattle in a single strike.

Killers and Lovers

Every town that I have visited as an activist has a kasai gali, where Muslims gather the cattle, either to slaughter them right there or to smuggle them out.
The smuggling of cattle in Sachin’s part of Bihar has stopped totally. The mafia price on the head of this Brahmin has gone up from 10 to 20 lakhs. Sachin always called me from different numbers and I did not bother to save any. The last I spoke to him was in October, when he expressed his desire to meet the home minister to bare his heart about the crimes against the cow and cow-rescuers.
He too would be at the rally today, looking for succour and empowerment in the words of the religious leaders. The political leaders, as the gau-raksha community looks at it, have been a big let-down.
Not all those at the rally have such brave and dramatic stories to tell, but across age, gender and religion, each of them nurses deep love for cows, snakes, monkeys and elephants. They would never do anything to hurt them, not even when they fall prey to snakebites and accidents caused by stray cattle.
It is this love that turns suited-booted young men into nurse-maids and labourers in slushy gaushalas or IT experts into architects and accountants at such shelters. All over the country, I have seen people bury the dead cattle after observing all the rituals, celebrate their birth ceremonies, dress up cows and bulls, garland them, take them out for yatras, touch the feet of the cow first thing in the morning…. I have seen young mothers feed the cows before feeding their children and old men and women bowing before cows in crowded bazaars… I have seen students get their heads licked by the cows before an examination and whisper sweet wishes into the ears of bulls to reach them to Lord Shiv.
There are hundreds of beliefs associated with the cow and family, each more charming than the other, many of them rooted in the Vedic science of panch-gavya, and there is hardly anyone in the gathering today who has not benefitted from them. Diabetics, heart patients, those afflicted with cancer, all of them cannot stop sharing on the social media the miracle cures they have experienced by this ancient science.
It is the outpouring of this love and devotion, the anguish at the butchery of cows, bulls and calves, the raging anger at the systematic neglect of the cattle-protection laws, the brazen and un-paralleled barbarism that the systemic failure encourages, the slaughter of lakhs of cattle that it leads to and the deep wounds caused by it all on our collective psychology that would find a voice at the rally in Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan.
If you still have doubts about whose side you are on, the cow-lovers or the cow-killers, please look at the pictures I am sharing with you. The pictures of cruelty in the largely illegal slaughter houses of India are too extreme to be shared.
I also have some happy pictures of ordinary Muslims feeding the cows, but sadly, not the copyright; so can’t publish them. They were sent to me by Hindu gau-rakshaks—to din it into my secular head that, to them, cow-love and Muslim-bashing are not synonymous.
(For the safety of the volunteers, some of their names have been changed.)


Beef, Bullocks, Bulls, Calves, Cattle, Cattle Mafia, Cattle Protection, Cattle Smuggling, Cow Lovers, Cow Rescue, Cow Slaughter, Crime, Gau-Raksha, Gau-Rakshak, Hate Mongers, Hindu, Jain, Mob, Muslim, Odisha, Police, Ramlila Maidan Cow Rally, Secular

Meet the author

author avatar Jagpreet L
I am a freelance journalist and an animal welfare officer (honorary) with the Animal Welfare Board of India,Please write to me at

Share this page

moderator johnnydod moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


author avatar Jitendra swain
26th Mar 2016 (#)

Gai Hamari Mata hai,
Fir kyun kata jata hai ?

Reply to this comment

author avatar Nabakishore khuntia
26th Mar 2016 (#)

jay gaumata

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Can't login?