When Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the gathering at Ayodhya on August 5, the day of the Ram Mandir bhumi pujan, he made a case for the temple becoming a symbol of unity in a country as diverse as India.
It’s unlikely—the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the subsequent riots and communal divide, the weaponisation of the religious chant ‘Jai Shree Ram’ by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its supporters and the attacks on and other-isation of Muslims have all left deep scars on the national psyche.
At the ceremony, Modi used the milder ‘Jai Siya Ram’, as if to symbolise that the war was now over, and spoke of harmony and inclusivity. But his words seem to have had no effect on his own supporters.
On Friday, just two days after Modi’s speech on unity, a Muslim auto rickshaw driver was brutally beaten up for allegedly not chanting ‘Modi zindabad’ and ‘Jai Shri Ram’.
Gaffar Ahmed Kacchawa’s attackers have been arrested by the police in Rajasthan. “Two people came out of the car and started beating me. They slapped me and asked me to say ‘Modi Zindabad’. They also pulled my beard,” he told ANI.
The attack took place at 4 am on Sunday, according to the FIR registered in the case.
The attack on Kacchawa brought back traumatic memories of the many incidents of violence perpetuated on Muslims, often randomly, since 2014. While Kacchawa is alive to tell the story of his attack, Pehlu Khan, who was beaten by a mob in Alwar in 2017, died of his injuries. All the accused in the case of his death have walked free. Khan’s lynching was caught on camera, accompanied by loud cheers of ‘Jai Shree Ram’.
The attack on Kacchawa is one of many in recent months. And justice, if the past is anything to go by, is unlikely to be done.
On July 31, a man in Gurgaon was beaten up by cow vigilantes on suspicion of transporting beef. NDTV reported that the vigilantes chased the truck driven by the victim Lukman for 8 kilometres before stopping it. They beat him brutally before putting him in the truck, taking him to Gurgaon’s Badshahpur village and beating him up again.
The incident was caught on camera as police and others stood and watched. Instead of stopping the attackers, the police sent the meat for testing in a lab, and registered a case against ‘unidentified’ people.
The Print tracked down Lukman, who now says he will never transport meat ever again. The level of dehumanisation is such that Lukman wishes he had died.
The report quoted him as saying, “They must have asked me to chant ‘Jai Shree Ram’ some 50 times. When I said it wasn’t in my religion and called Allah’s name instead, they beat me harder.”
The police, the report said, only intervened when they took him to a crematorium to burn him alive.
Read the entire article in The Printhere.
The seeds of hatred have been sown so deep that even looking like a Muslim can get you into trouble.
A lawyer in Madhya Pradesh, Deepak Bundele was beaten by the Madhya Pradesh police, two days before the nation-wide lockdown, because they suspected him to be a Muslim man.
A report in The Wire says when he was slapped for not wearing a mask, Bundele cited the Constitution to stop them from beating him, but then more cops turned up to beat him.
Bundele was rushing to stock up on medicines for his diabetes and hypertension when the incident took place.
A case has now been registered against Bundele on a complaint by a police officer.
While several international organisations and the media have highlighted the rising number of hate crimes in the country under the Modi government’s tenure, little has been done to stop it. While emboldened perpetrators walk free, both the economic livelihood and personal freedom of innocent people are being trampled upon.