Increasing Cow Vigilantism Hits Punjab’s Prized Dairy, Soap Units

Chandigarh: Cow vigilantes are threatening Punjab’s hard earned status as the best state for starting a new business. After going scot free despite targeting cattle transporters, cow vigilantes are now harassing the Rs. 200 crore soap industry and dairy farmers in the state.

Alleging the owner was using cow fat to make soap, a mob of armed men broke into the Chamba Soap Mills, a 100-year-old soap brand in Ludhiana, on 15th June

“There were at least 200 people armed with petrol, diesel cans,” said mill owner Manoj Jain. “The police did not listen to us. They just did what gau raksha dal people were saying. We tried to tell them that we were using buffalo tallow (animal fat used in soap) which was legal… but no one cared.’

The factory was sealed and Mr Jain was arrested on charges of cow slaughter and hurting religious sentiments.

The Rs. 2,500 crore dairy industry, where the main income comes from selling cross-bred cows, is also facing heat. Cross-bred cows fetch Rs. 1.25 to Rs. 1.50 lakh each. But now buyers refuse to enter Punjab, fearing attacks from cow vigilantes while returning with their purchases.

The soap manufacturers’ association claims at least 30 owners like Mr Jain have shut shop fearing attacks and the production is now down to 50% due to lack of raw material. Several other factories are on the verge of closure.

Their representatives have met Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal and the Director General of Police. The cow protection groups, they say, “are running a parallel government”.

But the Akali-BJP government too, is protecting cows, forming what is has dubbed a “cow protection board” ahead of next year’s assembly elections.

“If someone destroys our holy symbols… the person hurt will not wait for government action. Those who indulge in such acts should introspect and control themselves,”said its chief Bhagat Lal.
Denying there is a threat from cow protection groups, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal said, “There is no such problem in our state. Ours is a peaceful state.”