A New Level of Attacks on Muslims
THE month of April has seen a sharp escalation in the attacks on Muslims by the Hindutva forces. Using the nine-day Navaratri festival beginning on April 2 and culminating on Ram Navami day on April 10, the RSS outfits like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal have in a planned and organised manner utilised the Hindu new year day on April 2 and the Ram Navami processions on April 10 to target the Muslim community.
The modus operandi has been the same in various parts of the country – processions with arms are taken out and as they pass through Muslim localities, provocative slogans are raised outside the mosque and skirmishes engineered. This becomes the signal to attack Muslim shops and houses and resort to arson.
That these were not spontaneous communal riots or clashes became clear when such incidents occurred on April 10 in six states – Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Goa – where Ram Navami processions led to violence in nearly a dozen places in these states. Earlier, on April 2, the first attack in a Muslim locality took place in Karauli, Rajasthan as a result of a bike rally on Hindu new year day.
The victims in all these places are mainly poor Muslims whose houses and shops were looted or destroyed. In all the BJP-ruled states, the police which did not intervene to stop such attacks later arrested the Muslims who were victims and those who tried to resist the attackers.
Another round of attacks on Muslims occurred in four states, a week later, when Hanuman Jayanti processions were taken out on April 16. The same pattern of incidents occurred in Holagunda village in Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh, Bhagwanpur in Roorkee in Uttarakhand and Jahangirpuri in Delhi.
That these incidents happened with State patronage became evident when dozens of shops and houses belonging to Muslims in Khargone in Madhya Pradesh were bulldozed directly on the orders of the state home minister. The notorious bulldozer policy of the Adityanath government is now being brought into play in other BJP-ruled states. A bulldozer was stationed in Bhagwanpur in Uttarakhand and a threat was issued that the houses of those Muslims who were wanted by the police would be demolished, if they did not surrender. The bulldozers were sent into Jahangirpuri in Delhi, where the police is under the central government. Inspite of the Supreme Court ordering that the status quo be maintained, the demolition of shops and houses continued for two hours.
What these countrywide incidents in the past three weeks signify must be properly understood. These are not sporadic communal riots or conventional clashes which occur when some religious activities or groups collide. This is a pre-planned move to take the anti-Muslim campaign to a new level. There is every danger of local level pogroms being launched.
Having spawned a huge army of unemployed youth and with economic distress affecting large sections of society, the hordes mobilised by the Hindutva outfits are being unleashed for divisive and nihilistic purposes.
The brandishing of arms and vituperative slogans against Muslims by mobs in the garb of religious processions, the provocations outside mosques and the threats to desecrate them and the violent abuse are all designed to cow down and humiliate Muslims. It is a display of Hindu aggressiveness and domination. Any form of opposition, or, counter to the provocations brings the police and State machinery into action. Arrests under the National Security Act and bulldozing the houses and shops of Muslims with no legal sanction whatsoever, are a signal to the minority community that the State can act with impunity against them.
According to the RSS, it is Muslim extremists who are responsible for the violence. The RSS weekly, Organiser, claims that “Islamists in Bharat went on a rampage to attack the auspicious occasion of Varsha Pratipada (Hindu New Year) and Ram Navami (the birth anniversary of Lord Rama) celebrations”. It goes on to claim that it is a “synchronised jihad”. Thus, the aggressor poses as the victim in typical fascistic talk.
The nature of the beast confronting us is clear. It is a Hindutva juggernaut which employs vile tactics to establish its hegemony over society and its total domination over the minorities. This menace has to be squarely and determinedly fought by all those who do not want India to become a playground for the fascistic ideology of the RSS. The Left, which is uncompromising in its fight against Hindutva authoritarianism, must take the lead.
(April 20, 2022)