Turning the pages of murders and lynchings in the recent past, Syyed Mansoor Agha paints how as a result of hate politics the wheel of justice is derailed or allowed to go slow ultimately to deny it to the victim.
In a gruesome incident on June 28, two men from Udaipur (Rajasthan) reportedly hacked Kanhaiya Lal, a tailor, in his shop and uploaded a video of the act on social media, acknowledging that they committed the crime. They were apparently irked by the tailor’s Facebook post in support of BJP leader Nupur Sharma’s blasphemous comments on TV (May 26).
The murder was widely and instantly judged as un-Islamic and denounced by almost every section of Indian Muslims as well as representative organisations.
We feel this unfortunate act of two misguided youths emanated from the fire ignited by Nupur Sharma’s remarks and the protection the state provided for her. Had she been arrested, many unpleasant incidents may not have happened. The Supreme Court has rightly observed (July 1), “The way she has ignited emotions across the country… this lady is single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country.”
The Udaipur incident reminds us of the Rajsamand incident (September 2018), which was equally overtly gruesome, where a politically enthused Muslim hatemonger Shambhu Lal Regar killed a migrant labour Afrazul on camera. Under the pretext of getting some work done, Regar took unwary Afrazul on his bike to a secluded place in the fields. First attacked him with a chopper, then doused with kerosene, and torched him alive.
He got the barbaric act video-graphed by a teenage nephew and uploaded it with pride on social media. Unlike the Udaipur case, there was no condemnation of brutality. Instead, massive demonstrations were organised to glorify Regar’s “act of valour”. A group of people donated generously to help him financially. Some political forces also stepped in to back him. The president of “The Uttar Pradesh Navnirman Sena” declared him a probable candidate for LS from Agra.
Consider what was the pretext for this crime? NDTV quoted Regar saying: “I couldn’t bear threats to a Hindu woman.” He claimed, “He was sad because the law and the media showed him in (an) illicit relationship with her.” Media reports suggested that he was frustrated because of his “failed relationship with the minor girl”.
Noticeably Afrazul had no role in the whole episode. Yet Regar took his life to vent his anger. It was found from his social media posts that he was a Muslim baiter and so he picked Afrazul to victimise and earn publicity.
Unfortunately, the state remained reluctant for quite some time in acting upon the supporters of such heinous crimes. Sadly, the then Rajasthan Government let the fire of hatred ignite and spread against a minuscule Muslim minority.
We find a clue for the party and state silence in BJP MLA Akash Vijayvargiya’s case (June 2019). He was shown on TV screens thrashing a Municipal Official of Indore with a cricket bat. Eventually, after PM issued a stern warning, he was briefly arrested but later released on bail and garlanded at the State BJP office. The state BJP ignored PM’s warning and dithered to take any disciplinary action.
The reported cause of the reluctance was that his bullying act caused a ‘surge in votes.’ Ostensibly, the rule books have become redundant and the guiding principle has become whether the voters feel elated or damped, whose minds have already been poisoned with “hate-speech” and “politics of hatred.”
The lynching of Alimuddin Ansari (2017) is another case when saffron leaders, including a Union Minister felicitated the convicted persons, sentenced to jail for life. After the High Court suspended the life sentence and the accused came out on bail, Union Minister Jayant Sinha preferred to garland 8 of them at his residence, which made headlines and sparked national outrage in July 2018. Ignoring the criticism, Mr. Sinha acknowledged his role in their release. He debunked the criticism saying, “Their families asked me to get them a good lawyer, and also to pay for. Since so many people from my party supported them, I also did the same. My monetary support went as the fee for the defence lawyer Mr. Tripathi.”
The act of honouring the convicts of the murder of an innocent person and taking credit to get them unhooked is a betrayal of the oath of allegiance to the law and the constitution. But for what benefit? Visibly it was done to polarise the society by creating hatred against a religious minority.
LONG LIST- MOHSIN TO TABREZ
The list of those who lost their lives to hate crimes is long. It started with the lynching of Mohsin Sheikh, an IT engineer in Pune (2 June 2014). No reason for such a violent provocation was found. The accused belonged to a Hindutva outfit. Though the case is open yet all arrested men have been bailed out and hope of justice is bleak.
The same is the case with Mohammad Akhlaq’s murder (Dadri-2015). The accused got sympathisers and supporters in saffron leaders. After an accused died in jail, a Union Minister visited the family. His coffin was covered with the national flag. Then there are others like Pehlu Khan (Alwar-2017), Hafiz Junaid (Haryana-2017), etc.
It appears as if the entire state apparatus across the country sides with cow-vigilantes and does not care for human life. In several cases, the victims were booked as accused and culprits were treated leniently.
Then there was the lynching of Tabrez Ansari (Jharkhand-2019), a welder by profession who worked in Pune and had come home for a few days. He was caught by some villagers, while he was on his way home. The captors tied him with a tree and beat him brutally. Nobody came to his rescue. Onlookers looked to enjoying the epic of hate speech. After police dropped murder charges against the accused, there was uproar in the media and opposition benches. For the first time, Prime Minister expressed his ‘pain’ on the lynching incident in the house but not without a cursor. He hit out at the opposition for raising the issue.
RETURN EVIL WITH GOOD
The politics of hatred and polarisation has gripped the nation to the extent that gruesome murders in the name of religion are celebrated and the feeling of remorse is evaporating fast. The leaders of Hindutva are happy to see their work multiply by the division of society and tearing apart of the social fabric.
Unfortunately, the masses are being intoxicated with the fallacy of false religious nationalism, weakening the nation morally, culturally, and economically. The trend is dangerously devastative. Today it is cutting the communities apart; tomorrow it will impact other identities.
However, we need to act carefully and strictly remain within the limits as instructed by the Qur’ān: “Whoever killed a soul, except for a soul slain, or for sedition in the earth, it should be considered as though he had killed all mankind; and that whoever saved it should be regarded as though he had saved all mankind”. (5:32)
Also, there is no space for hate speech in Islam. The Holy Qur’ān teaches us: “Good deeds are not equal to the evil ones. Repel others’ evil deeds with your good deeds. You will see that he with whom you had enmity, will become your close friend.” (41:34) Whatever wrong others do, we should not replicate it at any cost. Our reward is with Allah.
[The writer is President, Forum for Civil Rights and can be contacted on [email protected]]