On patrol with the Hindu vigilantes who would kill to protect India’s cows

The gau raksha gangs patrol highways and country roads at night, hunting for cattle being smuggled to Bangladesh

One of the men stood guard, a rifle slung over his shoulder, as the others went to work on the truck: banging hard on the outsides, pressing their ears against the metal, sniffing the air for a telltale whiff.

Satisfied, they moved onto the next vehicle, along a line of trucks that stretched up National Highway 1 from Panipat, three hours drive north of Delhi, into the hazy distance.

Drivers scowled from their cabins, but knew better than to argue against this increasingly frequent interruption to transport in Haryana state. The men inspecting their vehicles were not police, but Hindu vigilantes; their prize not drugs or weapons, but cows.

Across India, there have been increasing reports of violence involving gau raksha: gangs – whose members number in the thousands – that patrol highways and country roads at night, hunting for cattle being smuggled to Bangladesh, or the few Indian states where slaughtering the animals is allowed.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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