NEW DELHI -- On the day that President Pranab Mukherjee appealed for tolerance, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal released a powerful message on the Dadri lynching in which he called on Hindus and Muslims to stop listening to a handful of "poisonous politicians" who are inciting religious violence to secure votes.
The nation is still waiting for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to condemn the killing of Mohammed Ikhlaq, a 52-year-old ironsmith, who was beaten to death by a Hindu mob alleging that he had slaughtered a calf in Bisada village near the town of Dadri in western Uttar Pradesh.
Last week, HuffPost India reported that Hindus and Muslims had peacefully lived together for decades in Bisada village, where the mosque stands on Rajput land, and it is the Rajputs who collected money to rebuild its facade, a few years ago.
But tensions have escalated in Bisada village following the arrest of young Hindu men in connection with the brutal attack on Ikhlaq and his son Danish, who was rushed to a local hospital in a critical condition. Over the past week, the presence of politicians and media have also been a source of agitation for the villagers.
After being initially stopped by the local police, which asked him not to visit Bisada village due to prevailing tensions, Kejriwal met Ikhlaq's family on Saturday.
In his address, Kejriwal emphasised that Hindus and Muslims had lived together for at least 70 years in Bisada village, but a few families from both communities had been destroyed by the explosion of violence on September 28.
"Who was benefitted by this - neither Hindus nor Muslims. The only people who benefitted were some politicians, some parties," Kejriwal said in his audio message.
"Hindus and Muslims were living in love and peace for 70 years in this village. Even their children did not fight and suddenly everything ended in one night. The trust of 70 years was broken. These politicians will go back home and prepare for the next elections. But some Hindu and Muslim families have been destroyed forever," he said.
In his message, Kejriwal called on Hindus and Muslims to stand against politicians who seek to divide on religious grounds.
"And now the methods of inciting riots are getting old for these politicians. Slaughter a cow to provoke Hindus, slaughter a pig to provoke Muslims. How easy it has become to incite riots," the Aam Aadmi Party chief said.
"How will all of this stop? There is only one way. If all of us - Hindus and Muslims stop listening to handful of these poisonous politician then their daily politics can stop. If we keep listening to them - Hindus, Muslims and the country - won't survive," he said.
Calling on the media "to stop showing the poisonous statements of a handful of these politicians," Kejriwal said that only the "aam aadmi" could save the nation.
"This country can only be saved by one man - the common man. The key is in your hands. Please, save the nation," he said.