Creative protection of cows and women
When the Vishwa Hindu Parishad begins talking about lawfulness, it is time to worry about aural health. Earlier this month, the VHP announced that it would give the Bajrang Dal lessons in law - not so that it stops pouncing on people in mobs to denude them of rights and lives, but instead 'acts' with a knowledge of the law so that it can be 'enforced'. Force is fundamental to the world view of the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and all similarly coloured offspring of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. So even in this case, once the Bajrang Dal has learnt, say, the laws regarding trafficking of cows of each state, and has found a violation, its members should draft a complaint - an art yet to be taught, it seems, the acme of optimism - and approach the 'appropriate authority' and "mount pressure by citing rules and laws". Why would pressure be needed if the demand is lawful?
But the mention of the law is suggestive, if not of change, then of a slight shift in emphasis, maybe temporary. Evidently, mob violence was getting too much even for hesitant law-enforcers to cover up. Could the growing pile of murders, although of minorities and underprivileged persons, matter a little in the 2019 elections? An appearance of reining in righteous passion could help. Besides, Praveen Togadia, the former international chief of the VHP, was a surgeon who went straight for the jugular. The cases against him ranged from the illicit distribution of trishuls to regular incitement of hatred and violence against a minority community. But the defeat of his protégé in the VHP organizational elections in April led to the anointing of V.S. Kokje, formerly the governor of Himachal Pradesh and high court judge in two states. No wonder the VHP's vocabulary now includes law.
Not that there is any other change. The VHP's focus is precise: protection of cows and women. Cows and women arouse the holiest of the RSS-VHP-Bajrang Dal's protective instincts: these females are equally helpless, equally incapable of thinking for themselves, equally productive of good, enjoyable things, equally worthy of possession and control. On both groups of females devolve the honour of the religion, although in two completely different ways. That is indicated by the two approaches to protection. Cows should be protected from slaughter and trafficking, and women from marriage into the minority community through the trumped-up evil called 'love jihad'. Trafficking of women, their rapes, murder and torture are really not part of the syllabus. Extending protection there would be foolishly self-defeating. Strangely, though, as the lawman chief would know, India has laws against such violence, and not against marrying outside the community. So what law would the Bajrang Dal learn on this score? Perhaps something is to be evolved soon. As the Bharatiya Janata Party cabinet minister from Uttar Pradesh said - in the name of the people of course - the Supreme Court is 'theirs'.