Focus

Cow killers of Malegaon

There is a good deal of controversy, contradiction and bias in the reports regarding the dead cows found on the Malegaon-Manmad road recently. There is no sign of any let up in this matter for the reason that the panchayat elections are round the corner. There are those who stand to benefit from the matter taking a worse turn which obviously would mean more tension and communal flare up spilling over the district. Some others who would be adversely affected by such a course of action would like to see a speedy end to the matter and a logical conclusion. Those who want to prolong the agitation are keen on bringing the matter to a head where there is every possibility of shops getting burnt or looted, people being attacked and riots breaking out.

Malegaon is a town with a sizable Muslim population where it is an open secret that cows are regularly slaughtered because of a racket involving not just the police but political leaders who are so agitated today. There is a huge amount of money exchanging hands. If the spoils are not shared according to what the powerful want there will be mysterious deaths. Some years back Ashok Chowdhary, the Shiv Sena chief in the town, was such a victim. His death followed a party in a posh hotel which butchers, leaders and government officers attended. Last year a butcher returning from scouring the countryside for prospective purchase of sacrificial animals was killed on a road leading to the town around Muslim festival of sacrifice.

The police despite all the abuses hurled at them know how to deal with the matter. Should they wish, they could stop cow slaughter in the whole country let alone the tiny Malegaon. That would require the rule of law taking its course and a stiff regulation of maintaining cows who stop giving milk and farmers like the middlemen abiding by the laws of the land whereby selling and buying cows for slaughter is a crime. The police know how many trucks carrying cattle enter Malegaon and what the condition of transported animals is. Milind Bharambe, the district SP of Nasik under which Malgeaon falls, said that according to the veterinarians the cause of death is suffocation (gudmaroon) (Dinkar, July 23, 2010).

The routine of carrying cows for slaughter in Malegaon is a ‘set’ business involving middlemen, checkpost cops, octroi in-charge officials, circle police, police officers of high ranks as well as local leaders. Those who do it regularly are always steady, stealthy and have to hurry through for they have to undertake future delivery soon after some rest. It is unimaginable if they would hazard the risk of dumping killed cows on the periphery of the town known as the flash point for communal riots. They would not hazard even a thought unless they are bought over with an astronomical amount of money and promise of safe passage. They would need protection and assurance that their regular work would be safe for them. They have also to think that their households would suffer if their regular income is stopped.

There is a sanguinary theory put forth by Shiv Sena mouthpiece Samna that the evil deed was purposely perpetrated on the Aashadi Ekadashi marking Panderpur pilgrimage. “In Malegaon a terrible incident causing great anger (to people) took place in which fanatics poisoned the cows and lest they cry loudly gagged their mouths and attacked them with swords and machetes,”   Samna reported on 22 July. This would be true and Samna need not persuade anyone to believe if the facts match. This bloody action would be unthinkable for the regular handlers of illegal imports of cows for certain reasons. They would throw down the cows on a deserted road rather than the stretch of a road between Malegaon and Kaulana where there are people and vehicles round the clock. Moreover, there are many factories and motels in the area which have large clientele of drivers, mechanics, passengers and cleaners. The area is dotted with farm houses and police chekposts. Navjeevan Hospital in the area has families of patients moving around round the clock. The network of small paths and roads leading to hamlets of Nagaon, Warane, Sonaj, Nandgaon also militates against Samna theory.

And if the killers of the cows were bent on creating riots then they are deft conspirators. They know their choice of place and time. But there is a word of caution from the new generation of youth in Malegaon. Advocate Shishir Shivaji Hiray says in a local paper: “It is not as simple secret slaughter as it appears. The purpose is to cause communal riots.” He adds that there is a hidden purpose of a deeper conspiracy to cause communal riots by this specific incident in Malegaon. “The real purpose of the conspirators who killed the cows is to more and more destabilize India, make it weaker and weaker,” he said. According to Hiray, it is the duty of the Hindus and Muslims to realize the danger facing the country. He puts his finger on the crux of the matter today: “What even the two bomb blast incidents [of 2006 and 2008] in Malegaon could not produce is the secret purpose of the conspiracy to kill the cows: causing communal riots. The need of the hour for the Hindus is to understand this.”

Of course, the most daring Hindu leader is Dada Bhuse of Shiv Sena who was allegedly involved in the murder of Municipal corporator Khalil in 2001. The court verdict of his case was near and this was given the cause of the 2006 attack by no other than the SP of Malegaon Rajwardhan.  This time around he is the most vociferous both in the Assembly and outside in the western part of the town. Can he heed the advice of the new generation?

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 August 2010 on page no. 1

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