This post has been written by Mamta Kumari, a law student from Banasthali Vidyapith.


The expression “Cow vigilantism” is used to depict the scenario where people create violence in the name of “cow protection”.  The term vigilantism means the activities of vigilantes when they hold law into their own hand without any legal authority. The aim of cow vigilantes is to end the slaughtering of cows and protection.

Cow vigilantism is not new in India as a lot of incidents is coming into light every day by the people for the enforcement of their religious belief. Cow vigilantism in turn results in violence, murder or brutality. In India cow is considered to be goddess and sacred one, and people in the name of its protection create destruction and suffering to the people who are alleged for killing of cows. vigilantes create widespread fighting which killed large number of people and emerged riots across country.


There have been lot of incidents in relation to cow vigilantism by the vigilantes in India. These movements and incidents for the protection cows are emerged with the objective of preventing slaughtering of cows. Some of the incidences are as under-

  • Burning by Vishva Hindu Parishad and Goshala Sangh (10 June, 2012) –

On 10th June 2012, Vishva Hindu Parishad and Goshala Sangh led the villagers in Punjab who burned the factory and two houses when they get information about slaughtering of cow in the premises of factory.

  • Mob attacks police and set fire to 65 vehicles (30 August, 2013)-

In this incident the mob affected the people and property a lot as in Rewari mob attacked the police and set fire on 50 state owned buses and other private vehicles.

  • Dadri mob Lynching (2015)-

Mob of cow vigilantes killed a 52 years old Muslim man named Mohammed Akhlaq by bricks, stick, by kicking and stabbing him and badly injured his son for a suspicion of cooking cow meet at his home and slaughtering of stolen cow.

  • Meat shopkeeper beaten up to death (30 May, 2015)-

In Rajasthan a 60 years old man who is a shopkeeper of meat was badly beaten by the mob with a wooden stick and iron rod until he is dead.

  • Wrong suspension killed trucker (9 October, 2015)-

In this incidence a mob of right-wing Hindu throwed a gasoline bomb in Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir on 18-year old trucker after suspecting him wrongly for transporting cow’s beef.

  • Jharkhand hanging incident (18 march, 2016)

 A group of men who were the cow protection activist murdered and hanged two Muslims, Mohammed Mazlum (35) Mohammed Imteyaz (12), who were the cattle trader when they were on the way to Jharkhand to sell the cows in the cattle fair.

  • Uploading “Obscene” photo of beef (6 October, 2016)

A 22-year old man identified as Minhaj Ansari of Jamtara District in Jharkhand was arrested for uploading an obscene photo of cow beef on WhatsApp group which in turn affected the religious sentiments of Hindus who were also the part of that group. Almost after a week he was found dead in the police custody where the police alleged that he caused malicious and deliberate speech for outraging the religious sentiments.

  • Alwar mob lynching (5 April, 2017)-

A group of 200 cow vigilantes murdered a dairy farmer, Pehlu Khan and injured six other people for the reason of slaughtering of cow.

  • Cow vigilantes attack in Karnataka (15 June, 2020)-

In Karnataka, a mob of cow vigilantes has tied the tempo driver, Mohd Hanif with his own tempo and was beaten brutally for carrying the cattle and also damaged the tempo.


  1. Constitution of India-

 a) Article 48– The Constitution of India under Chapter IV A (Directive Principle of State Policy) in its article 48 states that-

“the state shall take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle”

b) Entry 15 of State list– Entry 15 of State list under Schedule 7 of The Constitution of India also states about-

“Preservation, protection and improvement of stock and prevention of animal disease; veterinary training and practice”.

 This entry allows the states to make cow protection laws in their respective states.

2. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,1960-

Under this act a person is not allowed to kill any animal in any brutal and cruel manner unless the animal is suffering from any form of disability and is threatening to human life and property. The owner of the animal is also responsible to take safety measures of them.

3. The Cow Protection Bill, 2017-

This bill is meant for creating an authority to maintain the population of      Cows, and for banning the cow slaughtering along with formulating the comprehensive policy. This bill also provides the punishment including death penalty for this offence.

4. Cow protection laws in different states-

With the increase in incidents of cow vigilantism, different states undertaken to form their own Legislations for the protection of cows from slaughter and some of the legislations are-

  1. The Andhra Pradesh Prohibition of Cow Slaughter and Animal Preservation Act,1974
  2. The Himachal Pradesh Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act,1979
  3. The Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Prevention Act,1964
  4. Punjab Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act,1955
  5. The Bihar Preservation and Improvement of Animals Act, 1955
  6. The Assam Cattle Prevention (Amendment) Act, 1962
  7. The Delhi Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act,1994
  8. The Gujrat Animal Prevention Act,1954


In Tehseen S. Poonawalla & Ors. V. Union of India & Ors. (2018), three persons, Martin Macwan, a Dalit rights activist, Tehseen Poonawalla who is activist lawyer, Mohanbhai Hamir who was the victim of violence, filled petitions before the Supreme Court in 2016 after getting distressed by the increase in cow vigilantism incidents. The petitioners approached the court for directing the States and Central Government to take action against cow vigilantes.

In this case the court directed the Central and State Government to announce that the mob lynching and other violence will offers a serious consequence under law. Court further directed that the police should play active role in preventing the incidents of mob violence so as to protect the people against it.


Cow is considered to be holy by many Hindus in the country and to protect this holy animal, people started raising many movements for the protection of cow. Cow Vigilantism is found to be based upon communalism and violence which continuously from past kept on harming the society as the violent cow vigilantes use to go against the law and took them in their hand. These vigilantes attack people and their property and poses threat to law and order of the country in the name of cow protection.


The Constitution of India, 1950

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,1960

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