Speaking at an event in the Indian city of Pune, Mohan Bhagwat, chief of India’s prominent right-wing and cultural organisation Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), has suggested that rearing cows can influence a criminal mindset to change.
"When jails set up cow sheds and prisoners started rearing cows, the authorities saw that the criminal mindset of these prisoners started diminishing, and I am telling you this from experiences shared by some jail authorities", he said.
He said that Hindus view cows as being equal to their mothers and thus call them "Gau Mata" (mother cow).
"Cow is the mother of the universe....it nurtures soil, it nurtures animals, birds and it also nurtures humans and protects them from diseases and makes the human heart as tender as a flower", he continued,
RSS Sarasanghachalak Dr Mohan Bhagwat addressed in Pune, Maharashtra, said "Cow shelters were opened in Jails and inmates started rearing Cows. Jailers of different Prisons have told me, on 2-3 occasions, that criminal mindset of Jail inmates who reared cows, decreased." @ANI pic.twitter.com/K0r02fqb50— Rajesh Padmar (@rajeshpadmar) December 8, 2019
Cows have been very important for RSS, said to be the largest voluntary organisation in the world with four million regular volunteers. Its educational wing, Vidya Bharati, runs one of the largest private networks of schools in India – 12,000 schools with 32 million students.
Existing as the parent organisation of India’s ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), RSS holds big sway over politics in the country, especially the saffron or right-wing groups.
In recent years, laws have been tightened to protect cows revered as sacred in Hinduism. In another step towards bovine welfare, a local governing body in the holy Indian city of Ayodhya recently decided to protect cows from harsh winters.
Over the last five years, India has seen a rise in reports of mob lynching, particularly in the name of cow slaughtering. Many of them have drawn mass protests, social media outrage, hashtags, and even a response from the government.