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Scapegoats and Holy Cows

Ram Puniyani Ram Puniyani
20 Feb 2023
In a way, two sets of justice delivery systems have developed in the society due to the rise of communal politics. Myths, prejudices and biases against minority communities are getting deep-rooted due to organized propaganda.

In the case of Jamia violence of 2019, 11 students were arrested. One of them was Sharjeel Imam who was a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. The others included Safoora Zargar and Asif Iqbal Tanha. While discharging them, the Court commented that the ‘police was unable to apprehend the actual perpetrators and surely managed to rope them (the accused) as scapegoats in the matter.’ The Court also observed that the police have been filing supplementary charge sheets with nothing new to offer. Surely it was to drag the case and keep these eleven in the jail. There are many others like Umar Khalid who were talking of harmony and peace, but are behind bar now. However, Anurag Thakur got promotion from Minister of State to Cabinet Minister after his provocative goli maro (shoot them) slogan.

In the wake of Covid 19, it came to be known that many Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) members were having a conclave in Delhi. Some had come from abroad. The Godi (lap) media jumped to the opportunity and blamed the TJ members for spreading Corona calling it ‘Corona Jihad’ and ‘Corona bomb’, and many delegates were arrested. Around the same time a massive Namaste Trump meeting was held in Ahmadabad; Kanika Kapoor a noted singer had come from aboard and was holding many shows; and a Sikh Granthi who had come from abroad also was having many meetings. The arrested TJ members underwent a painful ordeal and later they were released. Releasing them, the High Court observed, “A political Government tries to find the scapegoat when there is pandemic or calamity and the circumstances show that there is probability that these foreigners were chosen to make them scapegoats. The aforesaid circumstances and the latest figures of infection in India show that such action against present petitioners should not have been taken.” 

In the wake of a series of blasts in Malegaon, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer, many Muslim youth were arrested and later released for lack of any evidence, but their careers stood ruined and their families defamed. ANHAD, the human rights organization, did come out with a report “Scapegoats and Holy Cows”. Similarly, Jamia Teachers’ Association published a report, ‘Framed, Dammed and Acquitted’. The report points out how Muslims are implicated, tried and later released after long a period of imprisonment. It is the Courts which occasionally come to their rescue and they are released.

There is an ‘other’ side of the story. Many saffron clads and those owing allegiance to sectarian agenda spread hate with gay abandon. One recalls the fairly recent utterance of the Bhopal MP, Pragya Singh Thakur, who is currently on bail in Malegaon blast case, asking people to keep sharp knives for punishing those indulging in love jihad. In the last couple of weeks there has been a spate of hate speeches from ‘holy’ men and women and even those who are part of ruling party. There are rallies where BJP leaders are seen and hate speeches are blurted out with impunity.

One ‘Hindu Janakrosh Morcha’ held over 20 rallies in Maharashtra and spewed hate against Muslim community on the issue of conversion and love jihad. It had planned a rally in Mumbai on 6th February in which in addition to conversion and love jihad it was to give a call for boycott of Muslim traders. A petition was filed against it. The Court in its wisdom directed the police to take action against hate speech under section 151. When this provision is there why have the police not taken action?

A rally of various Hindutva groups was held in Delhi at Jantar Mantar (5th February 2023) where a call was given to stock weapons to kill Muslims and Christians. As per a report in The Scroll, “In one of the videos, which has been widely shared on social media, a monk is seen asking Hindus to stock weapons to kill Muslims and Christians. In another video, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Suraj Pal Amu is seen calling for violence…” We have been seeing such calls being given in Dharm Sansads by the likes of Yati Narsinghnand and company who surely are having a state cover and enjoy impunity.

In the last couple of years, Yati Narsinghanad, the Mahamandleshwar of Juna Akhara, has been doing the same with increased intensity. Many FIRs were lodged against him for his comments against women and his Hardwar Dharma Sansad hate speech. He was arrested but later got bail with ease.

Let’s look at the contrasting situation. The Muslim youth are generally put under UAPA and other clauses where bail is difficult or a deliberate delay is created by authorities to keep them behind bars. The Hindutva/BJP/Saffron-clad saints are charged with lenient sections in which case jail is rare.

In a way, two sets of justice delivery systems have developed in the society due to the rise of communal politics. Myths, prejudices and biases against minority communities are getting deep-rooted due to organized propaganda. A large section of media, IT cell, and thousands of WhatsApp groups have been set up by them. 

This is at basic level. As they go up in the hierarchy of political structure and organizations floated by them, they try to put on sophisticated language to hide hate ideology. So, an RSS chief will say that ‘we are all Hindus’ and ‘we will talk of Vasudhiava Kutumbkam’ due to which many ideologues and thinkers feel it is worth having a dialogue with this organization. Their pet agenda leads to a stage where Yogi Adityanath will talk of Sanatan Hindu Rashtra.

Can hate be combated in any rational way? The emotive issues are further worsening the situation and starting from Ram Temple, to beef to various types of jihad and lately love jihad becomes the divisive and hate-spreading slogan on which the sectarian nationalist ideology thrives. There is a need to promote fraternity and the police/state officials in particular need to be trained in the Indian culture and history, which is plural and inclusive.

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