The RSS on Monday strongly condemned the attacks on Dalits across India, asking state government and Centre to take speedy action against those responsible. VHP, an RSS affiliate, however, vowed to continue its work related to protection of cow, saying they have been doing it for a long time and will continue the work. "We appeal to all the sections of the society to remain aware of elements who want to disturb the environment of communal harmony and trust.
We expect the administration to take speedy action against such individuals and groups who break the law," RSS general secretary Bhaiyaji Joshi, second in chain of command after its Sar Sanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat, said in a statement. Significantly, RSS had also issued a statement on Sunday denouncing the attacks on Dalits. He said taking law in one's own hands to harass Dalits was not only illegal but also inhuman.
While declining to comment on the attacks on Dalits and Muslims by cow vigilantes, VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain said there was a lot of controversy over it. "We will not like to comment on the issue. However, cow protection has been going on since long. We will continue to work for it," Jain said. Joshi said that several political parties and leaders of various castes are trying to create a situation of uncertainty through half baked information which is not conducive to harmony.
RSS also would like to appeal to political parties and various heads that there is a need to normalise the situation of uncertainty through public cooperation, Joshi said. "By sympathising with the victims, there is a need to think that such incidents do not take place," Joshi said in the statement. Talking to reporters in Nagpur, RSS ideologue and former spokesperson M G Vaidya said the government should take a strict action against those who attack Dalits in the name of cow protection.
"When there is a law against cow slaughter and provision of punishment for such acts, the so-called cow protectors should inform the police instead of taking law into their own hands," he said. The RSS veteran said "such elements" are defaming Hindu religion. He dismissed any association of the self-proclaimed cow vigilantes who target Dalits with Sangh Parivar. "The government should find out the credentials of such elements so that truth comes out before people," he added.
The comments by RSS and VHP came in the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly rebuking perpetrators of violence on Dalits in the name of cow protection, telling them, "If you have to shoot, shoot me" but stop attacking "my Dalit brothers". Facing increasingly bruising opposition assault on his government and BJP over attacks on Dalits and on the issue of cow vigilantes, Modi on Sunday called upon his countrymen to treat Dalits with dignity and not hate them.
He was highly critical of the Opposition parties, saying they were fishing in troubled waters and driving a wedge between Dalits and the BJP for political gains. Modi stated emphatically that discrimination against Dalits should stop and the onus for this lay on everyone. “If you want to take revenge, fire bullets at me. Why are you attacking my innocent Dalit brethren when all you want is to target the BJP,” he said in an indirect dig at the Opposition that has been blasting the BJP for the series of attacks on Dalits.
Addressing a polling booth workers’ meeting, Modi said the NDA government has been taking initiatives for the uplift of Dalits in the last two years. “A few political parties that claim to be champions of Dalits are worried about their political future as the Centre is according high priority to problems of SCs. Hence these parties are stooping too low to create divisions in society,” he said. “As part of the ‘Start-Up India and Stand Up India’, Dalit entrepreneurs are being given financial support by the Centre so that they could become job-givers and not job-seekers, he said.
A day after PM’s remarks, Congress on Monday created uproar in the Lok Sabha, saying he should "not shed crocodile tears" but "act". Congress members demanded that the Prime Minister should speak on the issue in the House rather than "tweet" and they staged a walkout later.