April 24, 2016

Jharkhand: Communal Cauldron

EVER since the BJP government was formed in Jharkhand, the state is being converted into a communal cauldron. In the 15-month period of the Raghubar Das government, religious processions and events are being utilised to create communal tensions and unleash violence. The latest incidents have occurred during the Ram Navami processions in Bokaro and Hazaribagh. In Bokaro, the procession entered in a Muslim locality to which it had no permission to go. An objectionable song derogatory of the Muslims was being broadcast to create the provocation for the ensuing clash, in which many were injured and some houses set on fire. Curfew had to be imposed in Bokaro. In Hazaribagh district, there were two incidents. In Keradari, the Ram Navami procession passing through a Muslim locality led to attacks in which a 55-year old man died and, another, a young man trying to flee the area was caught and both his hands were hacked. The body of another 19-year old man was recovered from village Rewali two days later. In Hazaribagh town, on April 17, during a Ram Navami procession, around 30 shops were set on fire and hundreds of people were injured in stone pelting. Here too, curfew had to be imposed. The pattern of communal clashes and violence in the wake of religious processions has been seen earlier during the Muharram procession in Hazaribagh district in October 2015 where police firing led to the death of one person. In Jamshedpur, incidents of violence took place during the Eid mela and during Ram Navami processions last year at Chatra and Giridih. Aggressive Hindutva outfits are allowed free run by the administration to create and provoke communal violence at will. The menace posed by activities of such organisations was seen in the ghastly incidents in Latehar when two cattle traders, one of whom was a 13-year old boy, were brutally lynched by some elements belonging to a cow protection group. A disturbing trend under the Raghubar Das government is that the administration is often behaving in a partisan manner; refusing to intervene when it is evident that communal violence is being instigated nor does it take effective steps to protect the minorities from such violence. Jharkhand has become a glaring example of how a government itself promotes an agenda of communal polarisation. In such a situation, it is imperative for all the Left, democratic and secular forces to unitedly mobilise the people to foil such an agenda. (April 20, 2016)