Update:As reported in the Times of India, six more youths have been arrested for vandalising the temple. Notably, four of them are suspected to be juveniles. Once their age is ascertained, appropriate legal action will be taken against them. This brings the total number of people arrested till now to 9. However, there is a probability of more arrests to take place as police have identified at least a dozen more people with the help of the CCTV footage. More than 800 Delhi police and Central Armed Police forces have been deployed, in plain clothes as well, in order to avoid any communal clashes.
As reported in The Indian Express, VHP’s Delhi unit working president, Alok Kumar, met Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik on Tuesday and demanded the arrest of those involved in vandalising a temple in central Delhi’s Hauz Qazi area. Reportedly, the delegation gave an ultimatum to the police to arrest the culprits within four days for restoring the confidence of the “terrorised” Hindus.
“The Hindu Samaj will take a call on its future course of action after waiting for four days for the police to arrest all those who were involved in desecrating the temple,” Kumar said. “We have asked the Police Commissioner to scan the CCTV footage, which should help them in identifying those responsible for desecrating the temple and idols in it. Four days have been given to the police to arrest all those responsible for it,” he further added. The delegation also asked the Police Commissioner to replace the “desecrated” idols with “full rituals.”
As per the latest developments, three people, including a minor, have been arrested for vandalising the temple. A Delhi Police official confirmed the arrests but declined to divulge further details.
While it is for the police to ensure that the investigation is unbiased and free of any political pressure, intervention of VHP raises severe concerns over the possibility of escalation and further communal politicisation of the issue. Take the recent Aligarh murder case in which a two-year old Hindu girl was kidnapped and mudered by a Muslim. Apart from the shock and dismay across the nation over the brutal murder, Aligarh witnessed an extremely polarised and sensitive atmosphere with non-local Hindus entering the city in huge numbers and instigating the locals, thereby creating a communal riot-like situation. Many of these instigators were from VHP, Bajrang Dal and other such Hindutva organisations.
Last month, the VHP had organised a meeting in Faizabad in which a group of Hindu seers decided that they will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to press for early construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya, saying "Hindus" have reelected him with a huge majority to complete the task. Construction of a Ram Mandir on the disputed site of Ayodhya will certainly lead to another round of brutal riots. Organising such meeting and mobilising support is just a step in that direction.
After the dreadful Pulwama attack on our soldiers, Kashmiri students studying in Dehradun were manhandled by right-wing Hindutva groups such as VHP and Bajrang Dal and were labelled ‘traitors.’ Our previous analysis has shown how these groups are active in cases of mob lynching and cow vigilantism as well. Not only that, they enjoy impunity and are also applauded by members of the ruling regime. To give an instance, in 2018, the then Union Minister Jayant Sinha had “honoured and garlanded” eight accused in the Alimuddin Ansari lynching case in Ramgarh, Jharkhand, while they were out on bail. Just recently, Sinha revealed that the BJP paid the legal fees of the accused in the same lynching case. "They (accused) came from a poor family. Their family members requested us to assist them financially in order to help them in hiring an able advocate. I, along with other members of the party (BJP) helped them in paying for the advocate's fees," Sinha was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.
Here it is pertinent to note that the 2018 US Report on International Religious Freedom revealed that the “conditions for religious minorities (in India) have deteriorated over the last decade, due to a multifaceted campaign by Hindu-nationalist groups like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent organisation of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Sangh Parivar and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).”
Central Delhi is going through an extremely delicate phase considering how a small quarrel over a parking issue between a Hindu and a Muslim man converted into a full blown brawl after a temple was allegedly vandalised. Entry of such forces like the VHP will further sensitize the situation and make the place a breeding ground for communal fights and politics.