A crowd of around 50,000 people applauded and gave social approval in a loud voice to demand for legitimacy to openly kill and lynch Muslims
Anxiety and distress have been a part of the psychological state of India’s Muslim community since the eve of independence. The onus of proving their patriotism and being politically correct is always on their shoulders. This can be seen in the political struggle that they opted for vis-a-vis the lack of leadership coming from within or in the parties that they voted for irrespective of their quasi-secularism. All of this didn’t change the fact that the fear of communal violence has remained constant. To say that the situation has deteriorated only after 2014 is misleading. What has changed post-2014 is that perpetrators are sure of impunity by the people in power and the demand for its statutory approval.
After the country became independent, a series of Hindu-Muslim riots erupted. They followed a pattern as most of them would happen in the old areas of big cities. Despite having largely Muslim localities as the common thing between these areas, they were also the centre of cottage industries. And due to these riots, fear was created among the Muslims, and they were forced to flee. Cities like Ahmedabad, Surat, Jamshedpur, Kanpur, Aligarh, Malegaon, Meerut, Bhagalpur, Jabalpur, Mau, etc are few to quote. There are dozens of other examples where riots took place and Muslims were forced to give up their ancestral business in the fear of violence. Their pieces of evidence can be collected from the book ‘Riots after Riots’ by famous journalist and former Union Minister M.J. Akbar.
Even though the frequency of riots decreased in a few decades, a new pattern was devised to instigate fear among Muslims. The state machinery itself started carrying out the genocide by taking the law into its own hands. On the pretext of national security, the police started to use indiscriminating fire on Muslim settlements. Hashimpura and Maliana are the most barbaric examples of such police massacres. Former IPS officer Vibhuti Narayan, while discussing Hashimpura in his book ‘Hashimpura 22 May’, categorically states the involvement of police and state machinery in the whole incident. The Idgah massacre of Moradabad on August 13, 1980, shouldn’t be forgotten, where police firing led to a stampede, killing 300. At that time, the Kishanganj MP from Janata Dal, Syed Shahabuddin, had given cognizance of this incident to the Jallianwala Bagh. In 2011, nine people were martyred while offering prayers in a mosque when police opened fire in the Gopalgarh, a village of Bharatpur district of Rajasthan. There are dozens of such examples of ‘police carnage’. They are well-planned attempts to instill fear among Muslims.
This pattern of intimidation has now taken the form of mass radicalization of the majority community. For instance, Lal Krishna Advani commenced Rath Yatra to build Ram temple in Ayodhya. A country-wide tour began, and Hindus were radicalized through provocative speeches. Consequently, Babri Masjid was demolished, and the country was in the grip of communal riots. Mumbai, the financial capital of the country, became the epicenter of these riots. In the battle of Babri Masjid and Ram Mandir, the entire country, especially the Muslims of Eastern UP suffered for a long time. The economic progress of Banaras, Mau, Ghazipur, Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Jaunpur, Faizabad, Ayodhya, Bhadoi, Allahabad came to a halt. The small cottage industry of these cities was dominated by the Muslims and due to ever-increasing communal tension, they migrated along with much Hindu elite from that region. It affected businesses and crippled the development of Eastern UP.
In the first decade of the 21st century, there was a successful attempt to intimidate Muslims in the name of terrorism. The arrest of students belonging to madrasas background started on the false pretext of their association with terrorist organizations. In the meantime, the Rajendra Sachar Committee report (2004) came and it became clear that only less than four per cent of Muslim students are from madrasas. Now, the next target was university and college students who were pursuing Engineering, Medical, MBA, and other professional courses. They were linked with the Indian Mujahideen and the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). The irony is that even after spending decades in jail, hundreds of these youth have not been convicted of any crime. Quite recently, a Surat court acquitted 127 people and decreed that they were not members of SIMI. This judgment came after 27 long and painful years and in the meantime, such fear had built up among the Muslims that they were afraid to send their children to distant cities for education. The situation went from being bad to worse especially for Jamia and Aligarh after the Batla House encounter.
When the BJP government came under the leadership of Narendra Modi in 2014, the pattern of riots changed abruptly, however, Muzaffarnagar and Delhi riots were exceptions. Since Modi’s image at the international level was already tarnished after the Gujarat riots, he did not want to malign it anymore. Intimidation and killings of Muslims were then carried out in the name of some nationwide conspiracy that every Muslim was a part of. Right-wing media propagated hate in general masses against Muslims and the state gave legitimacy to all these rubbish claims by wrongful legal actions. The lynching of Muslims started happening, based on myths like love-jihad, cow slaughter, raising anti-national and pro-Pakistan slogans.
Hundreds of lynching have been carried out since then, based on these issues and not a day goes by without the news of lynching trending on social media. The increase in the fear of Muslims has gone to a whole new level because even personal disputes are also linked to these issues and brutal killings are taking place. The politics of polarization has garnered massive support for these killers and even rapists in some cases as seen in the past. Along with political polarization, unemployment has also fueled the rising numbers of such incidents.
Until now, Muslims have been intimidated in different ways but the matter has now gone a little further than that. The developments after the lynching of Asif from the Mewat region in Haryana saw a demand to legitimize the killing of Muslims. A Mahapanchayat of more than 30 thousand people was held to put pressure on government machinery to withdraw the charges against the people involved in the incident. Naresh Kumar, who was involved in the lynching of Hafiz Junaid and Surajpal Ammu, the national president of Karni Sena, also joined that panchayat. In their speech, both explicitly said in a threatening and demanding tone “should we not even murder them (Pakistani Kids)? Muslims are not our brothers”.
A crowd of 50,000 people applauded and gave social approval in a loud voice to these demands. In the Aftermath of the panchayat, police gave a clean chit to four accused before even filing the charge sheet. These four accused were identified and named by Asif’s brother Rashid, who was also present at the scene and he too was injured. Secondly, after this panchayat, the people of Mewat tried to file a complaint with the police against hateful speeches but even before any action could be initiated, the ruling party BJP made Surajpal Ammu its state spokesperson.
When the party sitting in the government is welcoming these hate mongers by granting membership, instead of taking any action, then it becomes clear that communal forces are not a small section of the society which wants legitimacy to openly kill and lynch Muslims. The long history of intimidating the minorities is now slowly getting legitimacy from society. The accused in the Jharkhand lynching was welcome with garland by sitting MP Jayant Sinha and was re-elected by the same majority community. Shambhulal Regar, who hacked Mohd Afzarul fought the Loksabha election from Agra in 2019.
The list of killers, rapists, and abusers goes on while the secular, liberals, and communists are making it all about Modi. They are neglecting the fact that a mass radicalization plan is being executed right in the open. There is a need in the majority community to openly discuss this and counter it at the earliest. Secular and liberal from the majority community should take this as a project and shouldn’t leave all this to go after Modi’s evident fall. The face of Hindutva will change but the long-lasting effect it will have on generations to come will be unimaginable.
Disclaimer: Fate of communal forces after Modi/BJP loses 2024 - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view