On Monday evening, Gopal from Haryana was shot dead by cattle smugglers. He was murdered near Palwal village. According to reports, he was a member of a cattle protection group and was involved in several cases where smuggling of stolen cattle was prevented by locals.
Gopal’s murder was the latest in a long series of violent crimes committed by cattle smugglers. Unfortunately, the consciousness of the country’s intellectual elite isn’t rattled when Gaurakshaks are slaughtered mercilessly by criminals. It doesn’t appear to register on their mind that Gaurakshaks have families too. They are someone’s father, someone’s husband, someone’s son. Murder does not merely destroy one life, it leaves a million wounds in its wake that time cannot heal.
Yet, our country’s ruling elite has found a convenient way of deflecting attention from the series of crimes committed by cattle smugglers. It isn’t merely enough to ignore the spate of crimes against Gaurakshaks, they turn around and say, “It’s the Gaurakshaks who are to blame!” It’s a travesty of common human decency, of ethics and a recipe for chaos.
The mainstream media of our country has infinitely more time to debate irrelevant issues than actual ones. They spent more time debating Zomato’s PR exercise than the great menace of cattle smuggling that rural India is suffering from. They didn’t find much time to focus on the string of hate crimes against Hindus while they did have enough on their hands to invent fake hate crimes.
There’s a good reason for this. The elites suffer from a debilitating messiah complex. Therefore, it’s imperative for them to invent victims where none exist. Because people cannot be a messiah unless there are actual victims who require. However, speaking up for Gaurakshaks carried the risk of being branded communal or fascists, therefore, significant efforts are made to distance themselves from them.
Zomato’s PR exercise gets more coverage than the dangers Gaurakshaks and cattle owners face every day for a reason as well. It’s because the editorial board of mainstream media outlets belongs to the same class as the people who run Zomato. They can identify much more with them at a personal level. They are probably well acquainted with them, frequently order food from them and have a lot in common them. Having things in common with someone makes it much more likely that we will be concerned about them.
Consider the state of Gaurakshaks on the other hand. They are not very fashionable, they certainly do not belong to the same class as media professionals. They are rustic, live in completely different circumstances and face starkly contrasting hurdles. The ‘tyranny of distance’ that Rajdeep Sardesai once spoke of is very real. However, it doesn’t refer to physical distance alone, it also represents the vast distance between the lifestyles, worldview, the choices they make and financial status.
The reason why the intellectual elite is quick to believe fake stories of hate crimes invented by people from the Muslim community is because there’s a pervasive belief among them that Hindus from the poorer sections of societies are inherently bigoted and hateful. It’s extremely sad the extremely low opinion they have of them. It’s quite obvious that they do because nothing else explains their deplorable conduct. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to claim that the monsters are under the bed they warn their kids about are Gaurakshaks.
The plight of Gaurakshaks is ignored for the same reason. Why should the elites care if people they don’t know, don’t particularly like and certainly whose company they wouldn’t enjoy are getting murdered for their beliefs? They would much rather spend their time complementing Zomato for a tweet that isn’t even particularly brave and reeks of PR. It’s natural because the elite can identify themselves more with them.
Being Gaurakshak isn’t easy. The state perceives them as inherently guilty, the intellectual elite whose job it is to keep a check on the excesses of the government considers them filthy and monstrous and at the same time, they run the risk of being murdered by cattle smugglers. And yet, they carry on with their duty regardless of all the odds stacked against them.
We have no reason to doubt that Gopal was a good honourable man. He is survived by three daughters who were robbed of their childhood by criminals. Presumably, he had a wife who has suffered an irreparable loss. It wasn’t merely a Gaurakshak who died on Monday. He was a father, a husband, a son and a brother to many. And yet, no one apart from his family and band of brothers will mourn the loss of his life. There will be no debates on channels screaming that the conscience of the country has been violated. No politician will offer him any compensation or visit his family. Why? Because Gopal was a Gaurakshak. And the hearts of our elites don’t bleed for them.
Gaurakshaks belong to a different world entirely, a world which the ruling class doesn’t entirely understand or make any efforts to comprehend. Frankly, I don’t either but I have much more in common with them because we worship the same Gods. That is why I can at least make an effort to understand their concerns. They don’t do what they do because they expect a pat on the back, they do it because they perceive it to be their duty because they don’t have any other choice.
Some of them certainly go over the edge and commit crimes they shouldn’t. However, most of them certainly appear to be rather blameless in the whole scenario. It’s the duty of the Indian state to ensure that crimes aren’t committed and the law is implemented equally against everyone regardless of their financial status. However, the secular state of India has failed spectacularly at preventing cattle smuggling. Worse, the intellectual elite has turned a blind eye to them because it’s not fashionable in their circles to highlight the crimes committed by cattle smugglers.
The greatest tragedy of the whole matter is that Gopal’s death will not change anything. Numerous Gopals have been murdered as well but it hasn’t stirred the Indian state into action. The murders haven’t troubled the conscience of our ruling class. And so it will happen that before long, another Gopal will be murdered by smugglers. And more children will have their childhood destroyed, more families will suffer irreparable losses. Why? Because people from our ruling class don’t find their plight a worthy cause to espouse, because no from our intellectual elite finds it worthy to stand up for them, because our ruling class doesn’t consider their lives to be a priority and our intellectual elite lets them get away with their incompetence because they couldn’t care less.