OPED

In an insane act of violence two people lost their lives in Basirhat (West Bengal, 04 07 2017). From last quite some time the social media is abuzz that WB is turning Islamist, Hindus are under great threat, their condition is becoming like that of Pundits in Kashmir. The section of TV media projected the view that WB is not safe for Hindus but is a heaven for Muslims. Angry posts are also declaring that Mamata is appeasing Muslims, Islamist Radicals are growing in Bengal with support from the Mamata Government etc.

This act of violence was provoked by a facebook post. (July 04, 2017) Once it was known in the area as to who has done the posting, they surrounded the house where the 17 year old boylived. The posting was derogatory to Muslims. As the atmosphere was building up the state machinery kept silent, till the aggressive mob of Muslims surrounded the house. Police intervention was too late. While the boy was saved despite the angry mob which was demanding that boy handed over to them

BJP leaders got hyperactive and visited the area as a delegation. They tried to enter the hospital to see the dead body of Kartik Chandra Ghosh (Age 65). Muslim attackers had killed him. This attempt of the BJP leaders was to derive political mileage from the situation as BJP claimed that Ghosh was President of one of the units of BJP, while Ghosh’s son denied it.

The Governor of West Bengal, K.N. Tripathi, reprimanded Mamata Bannerjee for the violence. Seeing his attitude Mamata got upset and called him as the one belonging to BJP block level leader. Same Governor has been called as a ‘dedicated soldier of Modi Vahini’ by one BJP leader Rahul Sinha. The communal violence has taken a political color, BJP accusing chief minister Mamata Banerjee of appeasement of Muslims while the ruling Trinamool Congress is alleging that BJP is out for inciting communal passions to benefit electorally. Surprisingly with this violence, where two people have lost their life, BJP is demanding the President’s rule in the state, while the law and order has already been restored within a week’s time.

The picture in Bengal is very complex. A section of Muslim leadership is repeatedly doing violence in response to ‘hurt sentiments’. Earlier also violence was unleashed by Muslims in Kaliachak, when one Kamlesh Tiwari had posted something offensive against Prophet Mohammad. The feeling of impunity enjoyed by this section of Muslim leadership is giving a big handle in the hands of Hindutva forces, for which this yet again is opportunity to polarize the society along religious lines. Here in Bengal they don’t have to create the issue of ‘Holy Cow’ or ‘Ram Temple’, it is being provided by this misguided section of Muslim leadership. 

The picture is being created that Bengal is in the grip of Islamization as earlier Kaliachak violence and now this violence are being cited to show that Hindus are unsafe here. There was no loss of life in Kaliachak incident but yes there was loss of property, though. The core theme of BJP-RSS propaganda is built around Hindu victimization.

The role of government has been far from satisfactory in this violence, as it had time enough to control the situation but it did not. The law and order machinery must ensure prevention of the buildup of such incidents. By and large one can say that effective system can prevent most of the riots, irrespective of who is the offender. Here the Government should have acted in time.

Surely, Mamata’s alleged appeasement of Muslims does not apply in economic matters. The fact is that the economic conditions of Muslims of Bengal are among the worst in the country. The budgetary allocation for minorities in Bengal is much less than in many other states.

At the same time the communal polarization by the BJP is coming up with the menacing speed. In a state where Ram Navami (Lord Ram’s birth day celebration) was practically unheard of, this year around the Ram Navami procession was taken out with frightening swords in hands. Lord Ganesh festival is also being promoted in the state where Ma Durga had been the main deity so far.

Finally, who benefits from the violence? The studies of different scholars on communal violence in India like those by Paul Brass point out that there is an institutional riot mechanism, the core part of which is the impunity enjoyed by the offenders, the abysmal role of justice delivery system as a whole. Another significant study from Yale University tells us that in the places where communal violence takes place, in the long run at electoral level, it is BJP which stands to benefit. Those who appease the Muslim fundamentalists should note this and see to it that that, to discharge the constitutionally assigned duties are the essence of governance, irrespective of the community involved in the violence.

Let’s summarize the anatomy of violence in Bashirghat. Stage one, the offensive post on face book, two fundamentalist radical sections of Muslims unleash violence, number three the approach of the state government fails in preventing the violence. Number four BJP carries on from there and worsens the atmosphere by playing out videos which showed that Muslims were attacking Hindus in Basirhat. It turned out that videos were not from Bashirhat at all. They were taken from Gujarat violence of 2002. Also clips of a Bhojpuri films showing the molestation of Hindu women were recklessly circulated, the impression being given that this is happening in Basirhat. The same was claimed by BJP’s national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who said that he had news of Hindu women being raped in the affected area. And lastly drums are beaten about victimization of Hindus in Bengal. One just hopes it will not lead to polarization of communities leading in a state where so far communal violence had been reasonably under check.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

The lynching of Junaid (June 2017) in the outskirts of Delhi, in a train, did come as a saturation point in the conscience of large sections of society. To express their anguish people came to streets in great number in a largely spontaneous protest, ‘Not in My name’. While many critics criticized and undermined this expression of pain and anguish of the sections of society, it did catch the attention of the national and international media. The result was that our Prime Minister who has been keeping maun (silence) on the issue came forward to say that ‘violence in the name of Cow is not acceptable’; and that Mahatma Gandhi would not have approved it. This bland statement was hardly of any effect as just few hours after this; two more Muslims were done to death in Jharkahnd.

The earlier such statement from him was after the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq. (October 2015) At that time also nearly two weeks after the lynching he opened his mouth on the issue. That statement was also bland and hardly had any effect on the Gautankwad (terrorism related to cow protection) as lynching’s continued. So either Mr. Modi is ineffectual in controlling his cabal, the Hindu nationalists involved in such violence, or that they also know that Prime Minster is making such statements for saying’s sake, and that they can continue their business irrespective.

Mr. Amit Shah, BJP President, defending the present regime said that the lynching’s taking place in earlier regime in 2011, 2012 and 2013 were more in number. This is a total lie. According to the data collected by IndiaSpend, based on the content analysis of media reporting, “Muslims were the target of 51% of violence centered on bovine issues over nearly eight years (2010 to 2017) and comprised 86% of 28 Indians killed in 63 incidents. As many of 97 per cent of these attacks were reported after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came to power in May 2014, and about half the cow-related violence — 32 of 63 cases –were from states governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) when the attacks were reported, revealed our analysis of violence recorded until June 25, 2017.” How easily Mr. Shah wants to distort the facts to defend present government!

As such the overall dissatisfaction, deflected anger also leads to lynching, as seen in the tragic case of the lynching of Ayub Pundit in Kashmir. The insanity which comes up in the mob is most condemnable. In case of lynchings in the name of cow, the factors involved are multiple. With the rise of Hindu nationalist politics many a dalits were earlier killed in Gohana for example when they were skinning the dead cow. Adding on to this agenda of polarizing society on the issue of cow, last few years as Modi Sarkar has come to power there are overt statements for Gau Raksha (Cow Protection). While the laws of cow slaughter ban had already been there, with BJP ascendance the laws have been given rigid twist and along with demonization of those eating beef. In Gujarat the first laboratory of Hindu rashtra, even the consumption of non vegetarian food has been looked down upon. Now all over the country ‘holiness of Mother Cow’ is being propagated and imposed on the society with state patronage.

In the context of Akhlaq’s lynching Mr. Mahesh Sharma, union culture minister stated that the murder was an accident. He was also the one to go and put tricolor on the body of the accused of the murder, when the accused died in the prison due to some illness. Another BJP leader Mr. Sangeet Som had threatened that if those who have been arrested for Akhlaq’s murder are punished, a befitting reply will be given.

What are the major observations on these cases of lynchings? Eating beef, slaughtering cow and transporting cow had been the major pretext for violence. The victims of this constructed anger are mostly Muslims, while dalits have also been flogged and tortured. Muslims are presented as beef eaters, cruel, not respecting Hindu sentiments about cow, apart from other biases which have been already spread against them. The social scene has been so constructed that due to these biases and regular instigations, the popular adage, ‘innocents until proved guilty’ has been made to stand on its head to mean ‘Guilty unless proved innocents’ for Muslims. The ‘silent social sanction’ for killings and upholding the act is couched as ‘defense of Hindu religion’ and now Hindu symbol of cow rules the roost. The benign animal is the pretext for ghastly violence. To jack up their agenda there are false claims by BJP spokesperson that Gandhi wanted a ban of cow slaughter ban. He opposed the idea on the ground that there are many who consume beef, and that country belongs to all.

Lynching’s are not just law and order problem. These are part of, or rather byproduct of Hindu nationalist propaganda against Muslims. The propaganda pertains to the Holiness of Cow and Muslims violating that. It is not a coincidence that such brutal acts have become part of social phenomenon, after Modi came to power. Gradually the intensity has been stepped up. Beginning from Modi’s own statements about Pink revolution, of greatness of Rana Pratap as he gave his life for protection of cows, to demonization of Muslims in the name of cow makes clear as to what is the underlying social psychology, which leads to these acts. The claims of ‘good governance’ bite the dust in the light of these atrocities,

Ayub Pundits lynching is equally painful one. There is also a need to understand the social psychology operational there and urgent need to combat that. Country wide the insecurity of religious minorities smashes the claims of ‘Acche Din’, as the polarizing agenda is taking huge leaps in the name of Cow and leading to lynching’s’ on regular interval.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED