Bajrangdal activist Prashant Poojary murdered

Prashant Poojary, Bajrangdal activist

Prashant Poojary, a Bajrangdal activist who was a part of their “cow protection” teams, was murdered in front of his father, who witnessed the attack. 6 assailants from the Popular Front of India (PFI), on two motorcycles arrived and attacked him with sharp weapons and escaped even as he fell bleeding. His father took him to a hospital, where he later died. Another eyewitness to the murder later committed suicide.

I have been trolled by fans of the Bajrangdal asking me why I am not specifically objecting to the brutal murder of a Hindu who had been recruited by a criminal organization. My blunt opinion on it is that it is a sad story of gullible young and poor Hindus being misled into a life of crime in the name of pride for their religion, or protection of some specific arbitrarily assigned symbol. (Edited to add: The chief accused, who was a Muslim was also attacked in revenge and I did not outrage about that either. This is a law and order issue, not moral outrage.)

The fact of it is that Bajrangdal is a criminal organization. Its members commit crimes in the name of cow protection. The claim is that cow slaughter is a crime. Assault is a crime too in India. Even assaulting “criminals”. Yet these attacks are not a matter of simply chancing on a crime and thrashing the criminal in the heat of the moment, but a deliberate stalking of cattle trucks. Essentially, it is vigilantes dispensing violent punishments to whoever they deem guilty, which are usually hate crimes due to the religion or caste of their victim.

Animal husbandry minister Raj Kishore Singh, while replying to a supplementary question by BJP’s Lokendra Singh in the state Assembly, said: “Members of VHP and Bajrang Dal snatch cattle from the public on grounds of protecting them from illegal slaughter. They beat them up and even torch their vehicles. Ask these VHP and Bajrang Dal people not to do such activities.” He gave the example of tourism minister Moolchandra Chauhan’s daughter who owned a dairy farm and milch cattle being transported were captured by members of VHP and Bajrang Dal and the vehicle was set on fire.

Nor is it limited to Bajrangdal and VHP activities in Karnataka. While instances of assaults on cattle trucks are galore, the allegations of extortion and cattle theft in the name of protection also mount. In Punjab, the Progressive Dairy Farmers Association wrote to the chief minister saying the trade of selling milch cows from Punjab to other states has come to a grinding halt, because traders feared their vehicles being stopped and accused of cow slaughter.

VHP apparently even issues letters granting permission for cattle trucks to pass safely, as came to light last year, soon after BJP’s Lok Sabha Election victory, when Bajrangdal stopped a cattle truck carrying cattle from Punjab to Kerala. Apparently certificates from government authorities don’t mean much these days?

Bhuvith Shetty, also a “cow protection” activist, who recently threatened Professor Bhagwan had, of his own admission been to jail before for chopping off the hand of a “cattle smuggler”. Who knows whether it was a cattle smuggler or some unfortunate trucker hired to transport cattle from one place to another?

Sooner or later, it was inevitable that they would run into someone who would fight back. And this seems to have happened.

While the victims of criminals are law abiding citizens, they get cases slapped against them. On the rare occasion the people attacked in the name of cow protection are actual criminals, they would probably retaliate – as the case seems to be. Living a life of violence would sooner or later rebound, no?

There is nothing to comment here and no innocent victims, from the sound of it. It is violence between two rival groups that has a history and context, not a random innocent being assaulted. Yes, it is a crime and the police are handling it.

If anything, this should be a huge lesson to not become the cannon fodder for criminals using the gullible as disposable muscle. Young men becoming vigilantes to serve the criminal and political goals of those who reap the benefits of those crimes and none of the consequences. Those who incite are not going to be the ones putting their lives at risk. It will inevitably be disposable cannon fodder losing limbs in blasts, getting injured, maimed for life, spending time in jail or dying.

So, my answer to the trolls is:

Yes, Prashant Poojary was murdered. Yes it was sad, it is a crime, and it is flat out wrong. He should have been thinking about growing a business, nurturing a family, not losing his life as a foot soldier to an agenda so complex, he barely saw more than he was shown. The police are investigating and the criminals should be brought to justice. No, I cannot carpet blame Muslims for it and provide you with further fodder for hate, much as you are addicted to it. He made choices and he paid for them, like any other gangster dying in a gangwar.

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