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Cow vigilantism spikes in Modi's India

Cow vigilantes
Members of a cow vigilante group in Ramgarh, Rajasthan, India. Image: Allison Joyce / Getty Images

Extremist Hindu groups carried out a record number of cow-related hate crimes in 2017, and India's Supreme Court has now issued contempt notices to three states — Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh — for failing to prevent cow vigilantism, the Times of India reports.

Bands of vigilantes have attacked and even killed dozens of cattle traders, many of whom are Muslim.

  • The backdrop: Hindus consider the cow to be a sacred animal, and in May 2017 Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a nationwide ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter. While the ban was lifted by the Supreme Court just two months later, the signal of support from the ruling BJP energized extremist Hindu groups.