Prejudice masquerading as knowledge


In a shameful incident, five young Dalit men were lynched in Haryana ostensibly because they were skinning a dead cow. In a totally abhorrent move, VHP leaders have sought to justify this gruesome event by quoting the scriptures. Giriraj Kishore is reported to have said, ‘Shastron ke hisab se gau ka jivan bahut mulyavan hota hai.’ It is no mere accident that the same scriptural sanction, in a more specific version, is found in the class VI textbook, India and the World (written by Makhan Lal et al.), recently released by the NCERT. On page 89 of this book, in the chapter on ‘Vedic Civilization’, it is stated: ‘Vedas prescribe punishment for injuring or killing cow by expulsion from the kingdom or by death penalty, as the case may be.’ This sounds


like an exhortation to the young to indulge in similar activities in the name of a superior Vedic civilization.

This is yet another case, after Narendra Modi’s action-reaction theory justifying the Gujarat carnage, where prejudice masquerading as knowledge is used to justify most horrendous crimes in contemporary India.

While we condemn the Haryana incident and demand punishment to the guilty, we also demand that the VHP leaders, and the author of the textbook and NCERT authorities are not allowed to go scotfree.