Some 400 activists attending a Jesuit-run Right to Food Campaign’s convention in India’s West Bengal state have condemned so-called cow vigilantism.
The activists, who come from all major religions, condemned recent attacks by Hindu hardliners on people’s right to choose the food they eat.
“In the name of gau raksha [a Hindu nationalist right-wing federation of cattle protection movements in India] and vegetarianism, not only are diets being dictated but people are even being killed,” said Jesuit Father Irudaya Jothi director of the Jesuit-run Udayani Social Action Forum in West Bengal and convener of the Right To Food campaign that his organization runs.
A Muslim man was killed in Rajasthan state last week by a Hindu mob, so-called cow protectors, after they attacked his cattle truck. It was later discovered that the deceased was a dairyman returning home after purchasing cows. Hindus look upon cows as sacred animals.
The organization’s convention was held April 6-7 in Kolkata.
Binayak Sen, a human rights activist, said the government provides only carbohydrates in its food welfare schemes. No protein or fats were included creating malnourishment.
Father Jothi said, “We understand that our campaigns must go beyond work and food and look at people’s control over natural resources, including land.”
He was also concerned about the government grabbing of natural resources, especially fertile agricultural land, in the name of so-called development.
The convention also called on the government in New Delhi to lend assistance to drought stricken Tamil Nadu state in southern India. The situation is so severe farmers are committing suicide, convention delegates said.