Narendra Modi arrives to attend the all-party meeting in New Delhi. (PTI)
New Delhi, July 16: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today acknowledged that violence in the name of cow protection was tarnishing the image of the country and damaging the social fabric and asked political leaders to lend their support in fighting the menace.
" Desh ki chhavi par bhi iska asar pad raha hai. Rajya sarkaron ko aise asamajik tatwon par kathor karwaee karni chahiye. Gau raksha ko kuchh asamajik tatwon ne arajakta failane ka madhyam bana liya hai. Iska fayda desh me sauhardya bigadne me lage log bhi utha rahe hain. (The country's image is also getting affected. State governments should take strong action against such anti-social elements. Some anti-social elements have adopted cow protection as a tool to spread anarchy. People engaged in spoiling social harmony in the country are also taking advantage of this)," Modi said.
The Prime Minister's strongest remarks yet against cow-vigilante groups came at an all-party meeting convened by the government and were seen as an attempt to assuage the Opposition that plans to raise the issue during the monsoon session of Parliament that begins on Monday.
The Opposition has planned to corner the government in Parliament over attacks on Muslims and Dalits in the name of cow protection.
Although the meeting was held behind closed doors on Parliament's premises, Modi tweeted his speech extensively.
Two prominent absentees at the meeting were the Trinamul Congress and the Janata Dal United. While Trinamul had announced in advance that it would boycott the meeting, the JDU cited pressing party engagements.
The customary meeting ahead of every Parliament session is called by the government to seek the help of all political parties, particularly the Opposition, to run the House smoothly.
The Prime Minister asked leaders of political parties to collectively fight "hooliganism" in the name of cow protection and sought their cooperation in fighting "communal violence".
Modi, however, said the responsibility of fighting cow vigilantism lay with the states as law and order was a state subject. He asked the states to take strong action against those engaging in violence and taking the law into their own hands.
"Cow is treated as a mother and it is an emotive issue. But we have to understand that there are laws governing cow protection, and breaking the law is not an alternative. State governments must ensure the maintenance of law and order and strict action must be taken against those who break the law," Modi said.
CPM leader Sitaram Yechury, who participated in the meeting, said: "We have conveyed to the government that we want a discussion on the deteriorating internal security situation in the country. We have already given a notice on the alarming and rising instances of lynchings, which threatens to erode the faith in our system."
PTI reported today that the Centre has set up a 19-member panel, including three members linked to the RSS and the VHP, to carry out what it says will be scientifically validated research on cow derivatives, such as its urine, and their benefits.