Snigdha Poonam at Granta:
As the motto of India’s fiercest band of cowboys puts it, ‘To protect our culture and our civilization, we must do as the Vedas say. And the Vedas tell us this – if an infidel kills a cow, we are to pump his body with bullets.’ The ancient texts are unlikely to have issued an order involving the use of guns. What they repeatedly do is rate the flesh of the cow as the best meat known to mankind and mandate its offering to gods and guests alike. But one can either read a multivolume Sanskrit text or put together an army; apparently one can’t do both.
In 2013, Yogendra Arya launched Haryana’s first twenty-first-century militia of gau rakshaks (cow protectors). He also had it registered with the government as a non-profit, tax-free organization. The official logo of Arya’s Cow Protection Army is the gilded torso of a cow flanked first by a pair of swords and then AK-47s. Its slogan: ‘We will keep the numbers of the cow mother intact with our corpses. It’s going to be a fight the enemies will remember.’ The army operates at the level of an independent republic. It has an anthem and a constitution. It also has a fleet of vehicles and a stockpile of arms and ammunition. Its commanders are elected through a three-tier voting process; foot soldiers are chosen through the submission of an application form. Dozens are filed every day.