In the Mirror Image of the Taliban
THE everyday violence against Muslims is showing a disturbing pattern. In the month of August, there have been at least four recorded cases of gratuitous violence against Muslims in the streets of some cities and small towns in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The targets of such attacks were poor Muslims such as street vendors, auto rickshaw drivers and even beggars.
In one such incident, a 52 year-old auto rickshaw driver in Sikar district of Rajasthan was beaten up badly by two young men without any provocation. They started to beat him when he refused to say ‘Modi Zindabad’ and ‘Jai Sri Ram’. They threatened him that they will not stop until he goes to Pakistan. With broken teeth and badly bruised the man had to be hospitalised.
In Kanpur, in the second week of August, a Muslim e-rickshaw driver was beaten by a group of men who forced him to shout 'Jai Sri Ram’. As he was dragged along the street, his young daughter was crying and pleading with the men to spare her father.
In Indore, in the third week of August, a Muslim bangle seller named Tasleem Ali was set upon and assaulted. His crime being selling bangles in a Hindu locality during Rakshabandhan. After a protest by people belonging to the Muslim community at the local police station, a case was filed about the incident. But soon after, as an afterthought, on a complaint of molestation of a teenage girl, the bangle seller was arrested under POCSO. The home minister stated that Ali had impersonated being a Hindu and molested the girl.
The last incident was in Ajmer, where a beggar sitting with his two sons was attacked and beaten and asked to go to Pakistan. Despite his pleading for mercy, the men kicked his young son on the head.
After every incident, when the police arrested some of the culprits, as in Kanpur, protests by Hindutva outfits were held outside the concerned police authorities against the arrests. In the incident in Sikar, in the face of protests after arrests were made, the accused were charged with light offences and released on bail immediately. More and more, the mobs are emboldened by the knowledge that they can get off scot-free or be treated leniently by the law enforcement authorities.
In all these attacks, videos were made and circulated. The purpose seems to be to publicise these acts of violence and glorify the “valour” of the attackers.
Such casual violence directed against poor Muslims going about earning their livelihood, are pathological symptoms of the fascistic activities of the Hindutva outfits on the ground at a time when the leadership of the government in the BJP-ruled states and at the centre are becoming more aggressive about implementing the Hindutva agenda.
The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is being utilised by the BJP and the Hindutva forces as a golden opportunity to whip up feelings against Muslims and spread Islamophobia. The stray voices of some fundamentalist Muslim clerics, who have praised the Taliban, have become the pretext for the likes of Adityanath to raise the bogey of Talibanism in India.
If only the Hindutva zealots would look at the mirror and see themselves, they would find a mirror image of the Taliban.
(25 August 2021)