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Using Corona pandemic as an excuse to don fresh Hindutva masks?

Ramayan, Mahabharat back on air, VHP suggests people chant "Jai Shri Ram" to combat Covid-19!

28 Mar 2020

DoordarshanImage Courtesy: newslaundry.com

"I am watching ‘Ramayana’, are you?", asked Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javdekar in a tweet where looks happy and relaxed as he watches the television serial he relaunched on Saturday, March 28. The minister posted this blissed out photo of him in his posh living room, to show his followers, and his bosses, that he had delivered on his promise re-telecasting the television serial over 30 years after it debuted on national broadcaster Doordarshan, that was the only television channel available them. However, the tweets appears to have been subsequently deleted, possibly after receiving flak from tweeple.

 

Here is the picture that Javadekar had originally tweeted. 

Ramayan

The Doordarshan social media team followed up by reposting the minister's announcement on their own social media platforms.

The many exclamation marks and excitement from official handles soon encouraged many social media users to post photos of themselves watching the 1980s serial, made by Ramanand Sagar.  The serial had a cult following when it was first telecast, and the lead actors, Arun Govil, and Deepika Chilka, playing Ram and Sita, were even worshipped by fans and devotees when they made public appearances. Now as the nation observes the 21-day lockdown in an attempt to flatten the Covid-19 contamination curve, television viewership, and internet usage has seen a surge. Of course those who have televisions and also have smart phone and quickly ensured #Ramayana was the  top social media trend in India, where the Covid-19 transmission cycle has been progressing. DD National will now telecast the serial for two hours twice a day: 9-10am, and 9-10pm. The Minister tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and other official handles when he made the crucial announcement of this telecast schedule.

But, Doordarshan didn't just stop at Ramayana. Determined to deliver a religious double whammy, it has also decided to telecast the Mahabharat!

Mahabharat will be telecast at 12 noon and 7 PM. 


Meanwhile the Deccan Herald reports that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has also asked people to chant “Jai Shri Ram” to invoke divine powers to win the war against coronavirus. “We appeal to the entire country to invoke the intervention of divine powers in this difficult hour. For only half an hour, each and every family should collectively remember their Ishta Daiva and chant on a Japa Mala (a string of 108+1 prayer beads)” the DH quotes the VHPs nationwide call to follow the rituals.

The VHP, other right-wing supremacist organisations, as well as Hindutva outfits have told people how this was a time to invoke the divine, chant mantras, ring bells, blow conch shells to generate ‘cosmic’ vibrations’ that will kill disease causing elements and ‘negative energies’. Some like Chakrapani Maharaj led by example and hosted ‘gaumutra’ drinking ‘parties’ to tell followers that cow urine and cow dung had magical powers that provide divine vaccination against the new Coronavirus. 

Such Hindutva calls were also endorsed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members including a legislator from Assam, Suman Haripriya who was convinced that cow urine and dung could treat COVID-19. She was mocked online, but it is not known if the political party took any action against her. 

Television news channels did their bit by inviting religious leaders and gurus to come and share their ‘spiritual’ views on the pandemic. “Corona Doesn't Want to Kill You,” said Jaggi Vasudev, hailed as Sadhguru by his followers, many of whom are celebrities. Yoga teacher and businessman Ramdev was also a guest called by television news.

It is noteworthy that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had himself defied the national lockdown on March 25 when he was the main participant in an elaborate ceremony conducted to move, and consecrate the idol of Ram to a new structure in Ayodhya. The idol will be housed here till the Ram Temple is constructed.

“The first phase of construction of the grand Ram temple was completed today... Moved the idol of 'Ramalala' in a temporary structure near Manas Bhawan," Yogi Adityanath had posted. Adding that he had also given an offering of Rs 11 Lakh as a contribution to the temple construction. 

Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan was first telecast in January 1987, and those who grew up in the 80s remember how it was almost like a religious event. As only some middle class houses had televisions, entire neighbourhoods would congregate and watch it almost like prayer services, and religious programmes are watched today. They would sit appropriately dressed, with the more traditional covering their heads respectfully, and watch the story of Ram as told in the Ramayana unfold on the screen. It is said the streets were empty on Sunday as everyone was home watching the latest episodes.

Over 30 years later, the streets are empty today as well, if you do not count the migrant workers still walking  hundreds of kilometers from cities across the country to return to their villages. You will also have to discount the thousands crowding around places where humanitarian volunteers and governments are distributing food and essentials to those facing starvation and penury. Most of all doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers, pharmacists, and delivery boys are probably too busy to watch any television at all.

Related:

TV serials and the rise of Hindutva

Using Corona pandemic as an excuse to don fresh Hindutva masks?

Ramayan, Mahabharat back on air, VHP suggests people chant "Jai Shri Ram" to combat Covid-19!

DoordarshanImage Courtesy: newslaundry.com

"I am watching ‘Ramayana’, are you?", asked Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javdekar in a tweet where looks happy and relaxed as he watches the television serial he relaunched on Saturday, March 28. The minister posted this blissed out photo of him in his posh living room, to show his followers, and his bosses, that he had delivered on his promise re-telecasting the television serial over 30 years after it debuted on national broadcaster Doordarshan, that was the only television channel available them. However, the tweets appears to have been subsequently deleted, possibly after receiving flak from tweeple.

 

Here is the picture that Javadekar had originally tweeted. 

Ramayan

The Doordarshan social media team followed up by reposting the minister's announcement on their own social media platforms.

The many exclamation marks and excitement from official handles soon encouraged many social media users to post photos of themselves watching the 1980s serial, made by Ramanand Sagar.  The serial had a cult following when it was first telecast, and the lead actors, Arun Govil, and Deepika Chilka, playing Ram and Sita, were even worshipped by fans and devotees when they made public appearances. Now as the nation observes the 21-day lockdown in an attempt to flatten the Covid-19 contamination curve, television viewership, and internet usage has seen a surge. Of course those who have televisions and also have smart phone and quickly ensured #Ramayana was the  top social media trend in India, where the Covid-19 transmission cycle has been progressing. DD National will now telecast the serial for two hours twice a day: 9-10am, and 9-10pm. The Minister tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and other official handles when he made the crucial announcement of this telecast schedule.

But, Doordarshan didn't just stop at Ramayana. Determined to deliver a religious double whammy, it has also decided to telecast the Mahabharat!

Mahabharat will be telecast at 12 noon and 7 PM. 


Meanwhile the Deccan Herald reports that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has also asked people to chant “Jai Shri Ram” to invoke divine powers to win the war against coronavirus. “We appeal to the entire country to invoke the intervention of divine powers in this difficult hour. For only half an hour, each and every family should collectively remember their Ishta Daiva and chant on a Japa Mala (a string of 108+1 prayer beads)” the DH quotes the VHPs nationwide call to follow the rituals.

The VHP, other right-wing supremacist organisations, as well as Hindutva outfits have told people how this was a time to invoke the divine, chant mantras, ring bells, blow conch shells to generate ‘cosmic’ vibrations’ that will kill disease causing elements and ‘negative energies’. Some like Chakrapani Maharaj led by example and hosted ‘gaumutra’ drinking ‘parties’ to tell followers that cow urine and cow dung had magical powers that provide divine vaccination against the new Coronavirus. 

Such Hindutva calls were also endorsed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members including a legislator from Assam, Suman Haripriya who was convinced that cow urine and dung could treat COVID-19. She was mocked online, but it is not known if the political party took any action against her. 

Television news channels did their bit by inviting religious leaders and gurus to come and share their ‘spiritual’ views on the pandemic. “Corona Doesn't Want to Kill You,” said Jaggi Vasudev, hailed as Sadhguru by his followers, many of whom are celebrities. Yoga teacher and businessman Ramdev was also a guest called by television news.

It is noteworthy that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had himself defied the national lockdown on March 25 when he was the main participant in an elaborate ceremony conducted to move, and consecrate the idol of Ram to a new structure in Ayodhya. The idol will be housed here till the Ram Temple is constructed.

“The first phase of construction of the grand Ram temple was completed today... Moved the idol of 'Ramalala' in a temporary structure near Manas Bhawan," Yogi Adityanath had posted. Adding that he had also given an offering of Rs 11 Lakh as a contribution to the temple construction. 

Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan was first telecast in January 1987, and those who grew up in the 80s remember how it was almost like a religious event. As only some middle class houses had televisions, entire neighbourhoods would congregate and watch it almost like prayer services, and religious programmes are watched today. They would sit appropriately dressed, with the more traditional covering their heads respectfully, and watch the story of Ram as told in the Ramayana unfold on the screen. It is said the streets were empty on Sunday as everyone was home watching the latest episodes.

Over 30 years later, the streets are empty today as well, if you do not count the migrant workers still walking  hundreds of kilometers from cities across the country to return to their villages. You will also have to discount the thousands crowding around places where humanitarian volunteers and governments are distributing food and essentials to those facing starvation and penury. Most of all doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers, pharmacists, and delivery boys are probably too busy to watch any television at all.

Related:

TV serials and the rise of Hindutva

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Kashi Vikas Samiti miffed with actress Sara Ali Khan for visiting Kashi Vishwanath Temple

The members of the Samiti complained that the actor’s visit was against traditions and established norms

20 Mar 2020

sarah ali khan

The Kashi Vikas Samiti has taken objection to actress Sara Ali Khan’s visit to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi complaining that her attendance at the ‘Ganga Aarti’ was not acceptable as she is a non-Hindu. The Samiti has demanded an investigation into her visit and action against those responsible, News 18 reported.

Also seeing her visit to the temple through communally colored lenses were some Deoband clerics.  Maulana Mufti Asad Qasmi, a Deoband cleric of the Ittehad-ulema-e-Hind, condemned her visit to the temple saying her actions were a reflection of idolatry, a practice not followed in Islam. Saying that a Muslim cannot worship deities or perform rituals that belong to another religion he told UP Tak, “The way Sara has performed the Ganga Aarti being a Muslim is not allowed in Islam. These rituals considered as sin in Islam. Her actions are against Islam and is unacceptable. If she considers herself a Muslim and is a Muslim, she must atone for this sin and ask for forgiveness from Allah stating that she will not indulge in such an action again.”

 

Sara had uploaded the video of her visit on a popular photo and video sharing site, Instagram.

 

 

Sara was in Varanasi to shoot for her latest film when she attended the evening Ganga Aarti and visited the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and was accompanied by her mother Amrita Singh, Saif Ali Khan’s first wife, who is a Hindu.

It was also reported that she had touched the ‘shivalinga’, thereby performing ‘sparsh darshan’ while she was part of a special ritual there.

News 18 reported Chandra Shekhar Kapoor, the Secretary of the Samiti as saying, “The actor's visit to the temple is against traditions and established norms. It also raises questions on the security of the temple when there is a signboard clearly stating that the entry of 'non-Hindus' is prohibited.”

“How was a non-Hindu allowed to enter the temple and have sparsh darshan.....entry of non-Hindus is completely banned in the temple?” he asked.

Kapoor has also expressed his displeasure with the saints and accused that they had violated norms for possibly getting a “handsome dakshina” and free publicity.

Local seers and priests are also upset with her being there. Rakesh Mishra a priest who stated that Sara is a Muslim as she is known by her father’s religion said, “Though we appreciate her interest in the Hindu religion but the fact remains that she is a Muslim and should not have participated in the rituals. For her, all this could be 'interesting and exciting' but for us, it is a matter of religious piety.”

However, another priest, Amarnath Bajpai, defended Sara saying that she was there with her mother, Amrita Singh, who is a devout Hindu.

Post her visit, The Times of India reported that the Kendriya Brahmin Mahasabha affixed an order at the temple entrance to condemn her presence at the temple. The order read, “Those not belonging to Hindu religion are requested not to enter.

Dinesh Tiwari, the General Secretary of the Mahasabha said, “It’s highly objectionable and condemnable that Sara Khan went to the temple and performed ‘sparsh darshan’ despite curbs on entry of non-Hindus. The temple authorities failed to maintain the ‘sanatan’ tradition. Our senior members would meet to discuss the issue.”

Post her visit, she has been attacked by non-Hindus too, especially on social media. They have asked her to remember that she is a Muslim and not visit Hindu religious sites again. She had earlier faced flak for worshipping Lord Ganesha during the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, with many demanding that a fatwa be issued against her.

 

It must be noted that Varanasi is a famous destination for foreigners who are not Hindus and visit the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and also attend the Ganga Aarti there. However, there has been no objection to their attendance.

As Siddhu Tiwari, a local tour operator put it, “Any person, including Sara, can visit a temple if they believe in the deity. The 'Ganga aarti' is attended by thousands of foreigners who are non-Hindus too. People are only looking for publicity by making an issue out of this. In fact, we should be happy that Sara has given so much publicity to our temple and 'aarti’.”

Everyone is free to practice their faith in the country. If the Kashi Vikas Samiti doesn’t see a problem with a foreigner coming to the temple or attending the prayers by the Ganges, why are the rules different for Sara? Also, the statement of the Secretary of the Samiti saying that her visit threatens the security of the temple, clearly suggests his and his organization’s biased negative perception of the minorities.

Given the Samiti’s statement as also the statements of its affiliated organizations, it is safe to say that such exclusionary practices are taking place just because she has a Muslim surname attached to her name. 

 

Related:

Aaj Tak’s communal agenda surfaces as it targets Shaheen Bagh, mosques over Covid-19

Lives of the 'haves' and 'have-nots' in the times of Corona

Kashi Vikas Samiti miffed with actress Sara Ali Khan for visiting Kashi Vishwanath Temple

The members of the Samiti complained that the actor’s visit was against traditions and established norms

sarah ali khan

The Kashi Vikas Samiti has taken objection to actress Sara Ali Khan’s visit to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi complaining that her attendance at the ‘Ganga Aarti’ was not acceptable as she is a non-Hindu. The Samiti has demanded an investigation into her visit and action against those responsible, News 18 reported.

Also seeing her visit to the temple through communally colored lenses were some Deoband clerics.  Maulana Mufti Asad Qasmi, a Deoband cleric of the Ittehad-ulema-e-Hind, condemned her visit to the temple saying her actions were a reflection of idolatry, a practice not followed in Islam. Saying that a Muslim cannot worship deities or perform rituals that belong to another religion he told UP Tak, “The way Sara has performed the Ganga Aarti being a Muslim is not allowed in Islam. These rituals considered as sin in Islam. Her actions are against Islam and is unacceptable. If she considers herself a Muslim and is a Muslim, she must atone for this sin and ask for forgiveness from Allah stating that she will not indulge in such an action again.”

 

Sara had uploaded the video of her visit on a popular photo and video sharing site, Instagram.

 

 

Sara was in Varanasi to shoot for her latest film when she attended the evening Ganga Aarti and visited the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and was accompanied by her mother Amrita Singh, Saif Ali Khan’s first wife, who is a Hindu.

It was also reported that she had touched the ‘shivalinga’, thereby performing ‘sparsh darshan’ while she was part of a special ritual there.

News 18 reported Chandra Shekhar Kapoor, the Secretary of the Samiti as saying, “The actor's visit to the temple is against traditions and established norms. It also raises questions on the security of the temple when there is a signboard clearly stating that the entry of 'non-Hindus' is prohibited.”

“How was a non-Hindu allowed to enter the temple and have sparsh darshan.....entry of non-Hindus is completely banned in the temple?” he asked.

Kapoor has also expressed his displeasure with the saints and accused that they had violated norms for possibly getting a “handsome dakshina” and free publicity.

Local seers and priests are also upset with her being there. Rakesh Mishra a priest who stated that Sara is a Muslim as she is known by her father’s religion said, “Though we appreciate her interest in the Hindu religion but the fact remains that she is a Muslim and should not have participated in the rituals. For her, all this could be 'interesting and exciting' but for us, it is a matter of religious piety.”

However, another priest, Amarnath Bajpai, defended Sara saying that she was there with her mother, Amrita Singh, who is a devout Hindu.

Post her visit, The Times of India reported that the Kendriya Brahmin Mahasabha affixed an order at the temple entrance to condemn her presence at the temple. The order read, “Those not belonging to Hindu religion are requested not to enter.

Dinesh Tiwari, the General Secretary of the Mahasabha said, “It’s highly objectionable and condemnable that Sara Khan went to the temple and performed ‘sparsh darshan’ despite curbs on entry of non-Hindus. The temple authorities failed to maintain the ‘sanatan’ tradition. Our senior members would meet to discuss the issue.”

Post her visit, she has been attacked by non-Hindus too, especially on social media. They have asked her to remember that she is a Muslim and not visit Hindu religious sites again. She had earlier faced flak for worshipping Lord Ganesha during the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, with many demanding that a fatwa be issued against her.

 

It must be noted that Varanasi is a famous destination for foreigners who are not Hindus and visit the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and also attend the Ganga Aarti there. However, there has been no objection to their attendance.

As Siddhu Tiwari, a local tour operator put it, “Any person, including Sara, can visit a temple if they believe in the deity. The 'Ganga aarti' is attended by thousands of foreigners who are non-Hindus too. People are only looking for publicity by making an issue out of this. In fact, we should be happy that Sara has given so much publicity to our temple and 'aarti’.”

Everyone is free to practice their faith in the country. If the Kashi Vikas Samiti doesn’t see a problem with a foreigner coming to the temple or attending the prayers by the Ganges, why are the rules different for Sara? Also, the statement of the Secretary of the Samiti saying that her visit threatens the security of the temple, clearly suggests his and his organization’s biased negative perception of the minorities.

Given the Samiti’s statement as also the statements of its affiliated organizations, it is safe to say that such exclusionary practices are taking place just because she has a Muslim surname attached to her name. 

 

Related:

Aaj Tak’s communal agenda surfaces as it targets Shaheen Bagh, mosques over Covid-19

Lives of the 'haves' and 'have-nots' in the times of Corona

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Law to give Muslims 5% quota in education: M'tra

28 Feb 2020

"The state government will take an appropriate decision on bringing in the law, before school admissions start in June," Maharashtra minister for minority affairs Nawab Malik said.

ReservationThe announcement was made by minority affairs minister, Nawab Malik in the on going assembly session today. Maharashtra government will bring in a law to give five per cent reservation to Muslims in educational institutes, state minister for minority affairs Nawab Malik said in the Legislative Council Friday.

“The Bombay High Court has upheld the five per cent reservation in educational institutes given to Muslims in 2014. The government will soon bring a law to provide that benefit,” Malik said, responding to a question by Congress legislator Sharad Ranpise.

The minister further added that the government will bring the law as per the Constitution, and it will stand in court. “The government will take appropriate decision on bringing in the law before school admissions start in June,” he said.

In a written reply to a starred question on Muslim reservation by Ranpinse, Malik said the government had given five per cent reservation to Muslims in government jobs and educational institutes through an ordinance in July 2014. “Petitions were filed against it, and the Bombay High Court, in its interim order in November 2014, upheld five per cent reservation in government and government-aided educational institutes. But it had stayed the reservation given in private educational institutes and government jobs,” said the minister.

Malik further said that the ordinance promulgated in July 2014 for the quota lapsed in November 2014, as it was not converted into a law. The benefit was planned by the then Congress-NCP government under Prithviraj Chavan, but the BJP-led government that came to power in October 2014 ruled out the reservation to Muslims on religious grounds, citing various Supreme Court and High Court rulings.

 

Law to give Muslims 5% quota in education: M'tra

"The state government will take an appropriate decision on bringing in the law, before school admissions start in June," Maharashtra minister for minority affairs Nawab Malik said.

ReservationThe announcement was made by minority affairs minister, Nawab Malik in the on going assembly session today. Maharashtra government will bring in a law to give five per cent reservation to Muslims in educational institutes, state minister for minority affairs Nawab Malik said in the Legislative Council Friday.

“The Bombay High Court has upheld the five per cent reservation in educational institutes given to Muslims in 2014. The government will soon bring a law to provide that benefit,” Malik said, responding to a question by Congress legislator Sharad Ranpise.

The minister further added that the government will bring the law as per the Constitution, and it will stand in court. “The government will take appropriate decision on bringing in the law before school admissions start in June,” he said.

In a written reply to a starred question on Muslim reservation by Ranpinse, Malik said the government had given five per cent reservation to Muslims in government jobs and educational institutes through an ordinance in July 2014. “Petitions were filed against it, and the Bombay High Court, in its interim order in November 2014, upheld five per cent reservation in government and government-aided educational institutes. But it had stayed the reservation given in private educational institutes and government jobs,” said the minister.

Malik further said that the ordinance promulgated in July 2014 for the quota lapsed in November 2014, as it was not converted into a law. The benefit was planned by the then Congress-NCP government under Prithviraj Chavan, but the BJP-led government that came to power in October 2014 ruled out the reservation to Muslims on religious grounds, citing various Supreme Court and High Court rulings.

 

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New private train Kashi Mahakal Express has a reserved berth for Lord Shiva

The Indian Railways says the transformation of the berth into a temple was only a one time affair to seek blessings for project

18 Feb 2020

Mahakal Express

The latest reports of seat no. 64 in Coach B5 of India’s third private train being turned into a mini temple for Lord Shiva, the 82401 Kashi Mahakal Express, just go to show that the Centre has implemented its idea of pilgrimage tourism to the T.

Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, the train’s seat 64 has a berth dedicated to the Lord with pictures of him, garlands and a puja thali to offer prayers to the deity. The Kashi Mahakal Express is set to connect the three jyotirlinga shrines in Omkareshwar (near Indore), Mahakaleshwar (Ujjain) and Kashi Vishwanath (Varanasi). The railway authorities are also mulling making the temporary temple a permanent one, apart from offering prayers at the seat on auspicious days and occasions.

News 18 reported Deepak Kumar, a spokesperson for the Northern Railway as saying, “Seat number 64 in coach B5 was reserved and left vacant for the deity. It’s for the first time that a seat has been reserved and left vacant for the deity Lord Shiva. Even a temple has been drawn on the seat to make people aware that the seat is reserved for the Lord Mahakal in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain.”

The train is also set to play light devotional music, only serve vegetarian meals and have two dedicated private guards in every coach.

 While images of staff praying before the seat where the temple is made are making the rounds, the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has clarified to news agency ANI that “there is going to be no such reserved or dedicated berth for this purpose in the commercial run of the train”. The IRCTC added, “Staff of the new Kashi Mahakal Express train had temporarily put photos of Shri Mahakaal on an upper berth to do 'pooja' and seek blessings for the success of the new project. It is meant only for the inaugural run as a one-time affair.”

The train is to commence commercial operations on February 20 while Mahashivratri, a festival dedicated to Lord Shiva falls on February 21.

Nonetheless, post the revelation, Twitterati had a field day questioning the Indian Railways of its newest announcement and also drew the ire of a few politicians.

 

 

Though the PM seems to have allowed Lord Shiva to bestow his blessings for the project, will the mini-temple be removed once the train commences operations or will this turn into another attempt to slowly push the Hindutva agenda will have to be seen.


Related:

Ticket prices to go up as Hyundai, Tata, Adani line up to run private trains

No love in the air? Plans to run special Karva Chauth train derail, IRCTC left red-faced

New private train Kashi Mahakal Express has a reserved berth for Lord Shiva

The Indian Railways says the transformation of the berth into a temple was only a one time affair to seek blessings for project

Mahakal Express

The latest reports of seat no. 64 in Coach B5 of India’s third private train being turned into a mini temple for Lord Shiva, the 82401 Kashi Mahakal Express, just go to show that the Centre has implemented its idea of pilgrimage tourism to the T.

Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, the train’s seat 64 has a berth dedicated to the Lord with pictures of him, garlands and a puja thali to offer prayers to the deity. The Kashi Mahakal Express is set to connect the three jyotirlinga shrines in Omkareshwar (near Indore), Mahakaleshwar (Ujjain) and Kashi Vishwanath (Varanasi). The railway authorities are also mulling making the temporary temple a permanent one, apart from offering prayers at the seat on auspicious days and occasions.

News 18 reported Deepak Kumar, a spokesperson for the Northern Railway as saying, “Seat number 64 in coach B5 was reserved and left vacant for the deity. It’s for the first time that a seat has been reserved and left vacant for the deity Lord Shiva. Even a temple has been drawn on the seat to make people aware that the seat is reserved for the Lord Mahakal in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain.”

The train is also set to play light devotional music, only serve vegetarian meals and have two dedicated private guards in every coach.

 While images of staff praying before the seat where the temple is made are making the rounds, the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has clarified to news agency ANI that “there is going to be no such reserved or dedicated berth for this purpose in the commercial run of the train”. The IRCTC added, “Staff of the new Kashi Mahakal Express train had temporarily put photos of Shri Mahakaal on an upper berth to do 'pooja' and seek blessings for the success of the new project. It is meant only for the inaugural run as a one-time affair.”

The train is to commence commercial operations on February 20 while Mahashivratri, a festival dedicated to Lord Shiva falls on February 21.

Nonetheless, post the revelation, Twitterati had a field day questioning the Indian Railways of its newest announcement and also drew the ire of a few politicians.

 

 

Though the PM seems to have allowed Lord Shiva to bestow his blessings for the project, will the mini-temple be removed once the train commences operations or will this turn into another attempt to slowly push the Hindutva agenda will have to be seen.


Related:

Ticket prices to go up as Hyundai, Tata, Adani line up to run private trains

No love in the air? Plans to run special Karva Chauth train derail, IRCTC left red-faced

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Tales of Bonbibi: The Forest Goddess worshipped by Hindus and Muslims

Sabrangindia 17 Feb 2020

In times like these, when the political unrest in our country is soaked in communal tension, tales of communal harmony where Hindus and Muslims have worshipped the same Gods and Goddesses since ages, need to be reiterated time and again. Bonbibi or 'Lady of the Forest' is one Goddess that the Hindus and Muslims of Sundarbans, in Bengal, have unanimously prayed to protect themselves from wild animals in the forest, as they ventured inside to collect wood, honey, crabs and fish, thus solidifying the religious syncretism of our country. Watch this video to know more.

Tales of Bonbibi: The Forest Goddess worshipped by Hindus and Muslims

In times like these, when the political unrest in our country is soaked in communal tension, tales of communal harmony where Hindus and Muslims have worshipped the same Gods and Goddesses since ages, need to be reiterated time and again. Bonbibi or 'Lady of the Forest' is one Goddess that the Hindus and Muslims of Sundarbans, in Bengal, have unanimously prayed to protect themselves from wild animals in the forest, as they ventured inside to collect wood, honey, crabs and fish, thus solidifying the religious syncretism of our country. Watch this video to know more.

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Four, including Principal, booked for humiliation of 68 girls in Bhuj hostel

The authorities of the SSGI had demanded that the 68 girls prove that they were menstruating

15 Feb 2020

Bhuj Hostel

Four people have been booked in an FIR in the Shree Sahajanand Girls Institute (SSGI) case where 68 girls were allegedly forced to strip to prove that they were not menstruating. The National Commission of Women (NCW) too has taken suo moto cognizance in the matter and has set up an enquiry committee to probe the matter. The Gujarat State Women Commission too has ordered the state police to carry out an investigation.

The police have booked Principal Rita Raninga, hostel coordinator Anita Chauhan, hostel supervisor Rameelaben and peon Naynaben on charges of sexual harassment, extortion and criminal intimidation among other charges on Friday.

Students of the institute confirmed to The Indian Express that the administration kept the girls in physical isolation during their monthly period, but this was the first time the girls were asked to strip.

Students said the incident was triggered after a hostel staff found a blood-soaked sanitary napkin on the hostel premises. Post this the authorities wanted to identify the “culprit” who had “violated the menstrual cycle norms of the college”. The student said, “The warden informed the principal of the college and asked her to take action. They made an announcement and asked all hostel residents to assemble in the lobby where the principal threatened to rusticate us from the college if we protested against the check. One by one, they called us into the washroom where the female peon made us remove the layers of our clothes until we showed her that we were not menstruating. It was hurtful.”

At the institute which is run by the Swaminarayan sect of Bhuj, the girls are prescribed a set of rules to be followed during their menstrual cycle. They have to reportedly enter details of their period which is maintained in a hostel register and the dates of the period entered by the girls are tallied each month by way of a mandatory disclosure to be done by the girls.

A student said, “They have a register at the hostel, in which every girl must write her name each time her period starts. This girl is then asked to leave her hostel room and stay in isolation in a dimly lit room in the basement of the hostel building, with no contact with others. She is not allowed to visit her room or the dining hall or participate in prayers at the institution till she has her period. If she needs something from her room, she can tell her roommate to leave it at the door of the isolated room. Meals are served to her in separate utensils and she should sit in the lobby of the dining hall and eat.”

The students said that during their period, they cannot participate in prayers or have food with hostel mates in the dining hall. Their meals are given to them through a passage in the basement where they are kept for three days. Nor are they allowed to touch their teachers or classmates.

The girls who protested at the humiliation meted out by the authorities were asked to take a Transfer Certificate from the college, say students. Only 25 girls have come forward to lodge a complaint, as the families of others are closely associated with the religious order of the sect.

The girls who live in the hostel are not allowed to have mobile phones. Students say it was the day scholars who helped them in their despair and informed their parents about the incident.

The Vice-Chancellor in-chare, Darshana Dholakia of the Krantiguru Shyamji Krishna Verma Kachh University (KSKVKU) to which the SSGI is affiliated, confirmed that the college administration did maintain such a register.

The VC has asked for the expulsion of the Prinicipal, hostel rector and the peon. Laxman Shiyani, secretary of the working committee of the SSGI said, “The students have complained against them and, therefore, we have suspended them pending an inquiry against them.”


Related:

Don’t label anti-CAA protesters ‘traitors’, people bound to defend rights in a democracy: Bombay HC
Death by excreta: The cursed lives of India's manual scavengers

 

Four, including Principal, booked for humiliation of 68 girls in Bhuj hostel

The authorities of the SSGI had demanded that the 68 girls prove that they were menstruating

Bhuj Hostel

Four people have been booked in an FIR in the Shree Sahajanand Girls Institute (SSGI) case where 68 girls were allegedly forced to strip to prove that they were not menstruating. The National Commission of Women (NCW) too has taken suo moto cognizance in the matter and has set up an enquiry committee to probe the matter. The Gujarat State Women Commission too has ordered the state police to carry out an investigation.

The police have booked Principal Rita Raninga, hostel coordinator Anita Chauhan, hostel supervisor Rameelaben and peon Naynaben on charges of sexual harassment, extortion and criminal intimidation among other charges on Friday.

Students of the institute confirmed to The Indian Express that the administration kept the girls in physical isolation during their monthly period, but this was the first time the girls were asked to strip.

Students said the incident was triggered after a hostel staff found a blood-soaked sanitary napkin on the hostel premises. Post this the authorities wanted to identify the “culprit” who had “violated the menstrual cycle norms of the college”. The student said, “The warden informed the principal of the college and asked her to take action. They made an announcement and asked all hostel residents to assemble in the lobby where the principal threatened to rusticate us from the college if we protested against the check. One by one, they called us into the washroom where the female peon made us remove the layers of our clothes until we showed her that we were not menstruating. It was hurtful.”

At the institute which is run by the Swaminarayan sect of Bhuj, the girls are prescribed a set of rules to be followed during their menstrual cycle. They have to reportedly enter details of their period which is maintained in a hostel register and the dates of the period entered by the girls are tallied each month by way of a mandatory disclosure to be done by the girls.

A student said, “They have a register at the hostel, in which every girl must write her name each time her period starts. This girl is then asked to leave her hostel room and stay in isolation in a dimly lit room in the basement of the hostel building, with no contact with others. She is not allowed to visit her room or the dining hall or participate in prayers at the institution till she has her period. If she needs something from her room, she can tell her roommate to leave it at the door of the isolated room. Meals are served to her in separate utensils and she should sit in the lobby of the dining hall and eat.”

The students said that during their period, they cannot participate in prayers or have food with hostel mates in the dining hall. Their meals are given to them through a passage in the basement where they are kept for three days. Nor are they allowed to touch their teachers or classmates.

The girls who protested at the humiliation meted out by the authorities were asked to take a Transfer Certificate from the college, say students. Only 25 girls have come forward to lodge a complaint, as the families of others are closely associated with the religious order of the sect.

The girls who live in the hostel are not allowed to have mobile phones. Students say it was the day scholars who helped them in their despair and informed their parents about the incident.

The Vice-Chancellor in-chare, Darshana Dholakia of the Krantiguru Shyamji Krishna Verma Kachh University (KSKVKU) to which the SSGI is affiliated, confirmed that the college administration did maintain such a register.

The VC has asked for the expulsion of the Prinicipal, hostel rector and the peon. Laxman Shiyani, secretary of the working committee of the SSGI said, “The students have complained against them and, therefore, we have suspended them pending an inquiry against them.”


Related:

Don’t label anti-CAA protesters ‘traitors’, people bound to defend rights in a democracy: Bombay HC
Death by excreta: The cursed lives of India's manual scavengers

 

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Communal Riots 2019: Communal Discourse Raging On in India

07 Feb 2020

communal riots

Attitudinal violence and structural violence contribute immensely to physical violence in the forms of communal riots and mob lynching. This was the scenario facing India in 2019. There were 25 incidents of communal riots in India in 2019, and 108 incidents of mob lynching, according to the monitoring of Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS). CSSS monitors reportage of communal riots and mob lynching in the Mumbai editions of five leading newspapers- The Indian Express, The Hindu, Times of India, Inquilab and Sahafat. As per the reportage in these newspapers, the number of communal riots in 2019 (25) is lesser than 2018 where 38 communal riots were reported in the same newspapers.

Though the number of communal riots has declined, the discourse of communal violence driven by ideology of Hindutva supremacy remains the same. Newer issues are being used to heighten the discourse of communal violence- for instance the discriminatory legislation of Citizenship Amendment Bill which excludes Muslims linked with NRC, the abrogation of article 370 in Kashmir and the clamp down on communication subsequently, the demand for construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Thus, though it appears that the number of communal riots has declined, that in no way can be construed as decline in communal discourse leading to communal violence itself. If at all, through discriminatory legislations and increasing dismantling of democratic institutions which were expected to safeguard democracy, communal violence is taking deeper roots in our society. The discourse promoted by the ruling party in conjunction with the impunity and patronage given to police and non state cadre is effectively perpetrating violence against the marginalized. Even if the number of communal riots is low, communal violence has stronger manifestations in structural and attitudinal violence.


Methodology of Monitoring:

The findings of Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) are based on the reportage of communal riots reported in Mumbai editions of five newspapers- The Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindu, Sahafat and Inquilab. This is also the limitation of the findings since they are based on the city editions of only these five newspapers. In the past, CSSS could give a fair comparison between the number of communal riots emerging from its monitoring and the number of communal riots reported by the National Crimes Report Bureau (NCRB) which used to routinely place this data in the public domain. It’s interesting to note that though the Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy claimed that the Centre has zero tolerance for incidents of communal violence, it hasn’t proved this claim through figures and stopped giving out data(Scroll in, 2019). The NCRB ceasing to publish data of the communal riots from 2017 is no mere coincidence. In the past, the number of communal riots reported by the NCRB or the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was way higher than that reported by CSSS.


Sections: Communal riots and Mob Lynching

As explained last year in its report, CSSS reported that though there is a decline in the number of communal riots in India in 2018, it doesn’t imply that there is a decline in communal violence (Engineer, Dabhade, Nair, & Pendke, 2019). Communal violence is a broader term encompassing communal riots as well as mob lynching. While the number of communal riots is declining according to the reportage in the Mumbai edition of these five newspapers, the number of mob lynching is increasing. Mob lynching is an instrument to achieve the objective of sustained communal polarization by involving communal symbols like cow, the issue of love jihad or even the more innocuous pretexts like theft etc targeting the Muslims. In 2019 too, the same pattern continued where though the number of communal riots decreased, the number of mob lynching were high. Thus the report of communal violence which manifested itself in the form of physical violence is divided into two sections: Communal riots and Mob lynching.

This section will attempt to understand the salient features of communal riots in 2019.

 

Salient points:

Religion wise break up of deaths and injuries:

In 2019, from January 1 to December 31, according to the above mentioned newspapers, 25 communal riots took place in 2019. In these 25 riots, 8 lives were claimed. Out of the 8 persons deceased, three killed were Hindus, three killed were Muslims and the communities of two persons killed were not specified in the reports. The two Hindus were killed in Maharashtra and UP. In the communal riot in Maharashtra, a fight broke out between the two groups which got a communal angle. The fight broke out during a game of gambling in the Amravati resulting in the death of one Sham Phelwan. A riot ensued and subsequently two Muslims were killed in the riots. In the Muzzafarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh, again, a personal conflict over a trivial issue of kite flying between some children assumed the communal colour. Both sides confronted each other and one group entered the house of the deceased, Raj Kumar and attacked him and other family members. Raj Kumar got critically injured in the clash and later died while being taken to hospital. One Vishnu Yadav died after being attacked over the issue of stone pelting during a procession of immersion of some idols in Bihar’s district of Jehanabad. One more Muslim, Jamiruddin Tapadar died in Hailakandi, Assam. This riot was resulting from a traffic congestion caused due to Friday prayers. 54 persons were injured in these 25 incidents of communal riots.


Graph 1: Religion wise break up of deaths and injuries:

Graph1

 

Religion wise break up of Arrests:

In 25 incidents of communal riots, there were a total of 48 arrests. 47 of the arrested from 48 arrests were from unspecified community whereas one was a Muslim. There were no arrests of specifically any Hindu.
 

Graph 2: Religion wise break up of Arrests:

Graph2

Region wise break up of communal riots:

The state of Uttar Pradesh continued to top the list of states which had the most number of communal riots. Out of 25 communal riots, 9 took place in UP. This is contrary to the claim of the Chief Minister of UP who claimed that there have been no communal riots in UP after BJP came to rule (Times of India, 2019). UP was followed by the state of Maharashtra where 4 communal riots were reported in 2019.  Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir each had two communal riots in 2019. In the states of Karnataka, Haryana, Assam, Delhi, Bihar and West Bengal reported one communal riot each.

These figures indicate that communal riots have mostly been reported in the northern zone of the country and the north has been the theatre of violence with deep faultlines. The western zone of the country has been prone to communal violence traditionally. Interestingly, though no communal riots from Gujarat were reported in the Mumbai editions of the five newspapers, the local newspapers in Gujarat have reported 9 incidents of communal riots in 2019.

However it will be misleading to believe that there is little or no menace of communal violence in the South and Eastern parts of the country only because of the low number of communal riots reported from these regions. The communal discourse replete with hatred and hate speeches is very much prevalent in the east and south. The discourse is infused with newer issues like Citizenship Amendment Bill, National Register of Citizens, abrogation of article 370 in Kashmir and the overall narrative of Muslims being disloyal and second class citizens of India. Such a discourse manifesting in structural and attitudinal violence has sharply polarized the communities along religious lines. 


Graph 3: Region wise break up of communal riots:

Graph3


Triggers/ Immediate causes:

In total, nine incidents of communal riots are associated with religious processions, festivals or celebrations. As observed in the previous few years, aggressive sloganeering, deliberate loud music to instigate the other communities, deliberating planning procession routes to clash with other religious communities has been used as a pretext to trigger communal riots. Out of the – riots, four took place in the state of UP, two in Rajasthan, one in Maharashtra, one in Madhya Pradesh and one each in West Bengal and Bihar.


Graph 4: Triggers/ Immediate causes:

Graph4  

In 2019 too like in 2018, the use of religious processions and festivals has been instrumental in fomenting communal tensions leading to violence. Out of the 25 communal riots, nine were triggered off by or during religious processions. The Kanwariyas or the Kavadyatras have been given protection and state patronage in a way that the State has favoured them. Out of the nine communal riots triggered due to issues related to religious procession, three took place in UP itself. In the Badaun district of UP, stone pelting took place during a Kanwariya yatra which coincided with the timings of Id namaz. The Muslims objected to the loud religious music played in the yatra which led to the riot. In Agra, members of Bajrang Dal protested against the Muslims offering the Id namaz on the road. 70 Bajrang Dal members who were not allowed to pass through the road due to the prayers threatened to recite Hanuman Chalisa on the road. In Balrampur district of UP, stone pelting took place during the idol immersion ritual on Dussera over playing of music.

In 2019, in Hingoli district of Maharashtra, the participants in the Kavad Yatra came in conflict with a group of Muslims who were together to offer Eid prayers. The procession had devotional songs playing on speakers. Both the groups started shouting religious slogans. In Jaipur, Rajasthan, communal riot ensued after a Haridwar bound bus was pelted by stones by some Muslims and blocked the Delhi Highway. This was a fall out of the tensions with the Kanwariyas. In Tonk district of Rajasthan, stones were pelted at a Vijayadashmi procession in the town, triggering vandalism and arson. Locals staged a sit-in outside the Malpura police station and refused to burn the effigies of Ravan till their demand for immediate arrest of the miscreants was met.

In Shajapur in Madhya Pradesh, stones were pelted on a Muharram procession. During the violence some two wheelers were set on fire. In Jehanabad, Bihar, riot broke out when a stone was thrown at the procession being taken out for immersion of idols near the Arwal More. The devotees blamed by-standers belonging to another community for the same after which both sides indulged in heavy stone-pelting which had left 14 people injured. The riot claimed two lives. Several shops in the area were set on fire by the rampaging mobs and the situation was brought under control after prohibitory orders were issued.In Purba Medinipur in the state of West Bengal, Christmas celebrations in a Church were disrupted when a group of men entered the church premises raised slogans "Jai Shree Ram", attacked about 100 worshippers and vandalised the church and a vehicle belonging to the pastor. According to police, one was severely injured and others few had minor injuries and the locals appeared to be associated with the BJP as per the initial investigation.

Though religious festivals or processions remain the main reason emerging from the reportage of communal riots, there are other triggers that have led to communal riots which are insightful as far as understanding the patterns of communal riots are concerned. Rumours of cow slaughter/ beef and eve-teasing of women by members of “other” communities are still triggers for communal riots. However there is a more overt and aggressively emboldening shift in the pattern where Muslims are targeted and attacked and told to go to Pakistan, sending a message that they are second class citizens of the country and don’t belong to India. In a blatantly shocking incident in Dhamaspur in Gurgaon, members of a Muslim family and guests who had come to visit them were beaten with sticks and rods, allegedly by 20-25 men, who barged into their home and attacked them on Holi evening. The incident took place when some of the accused allegedly approached the boys from the family, who were playing cricket outside, and demanded that they “go to Pakistan and play”. During the attack the family members were beaten up mercilessly and their house was damaged along with 2 motorbikes and a car. The accused also fled with valuables from the house. This is not an isolated incident but comes in the wake of the persistent attacks on individuals across the country demanding them to chant “Jai Shri Ram” or asking Muslims to go to Pakistan, especially after the re-election of BJP in general elections.


Role of the State:

The State in its response to communal riots is guided by its ideology of Hindutva or supremacism based on religion. Muslims and other minorities are targeted by state and non- state taking cue from the hate speeches of those in power and the active network of patronage. This has allowed the violent supremacist to wreck violence with impunity. The police did not only fail to prevent the riots or bring the culprits to justice, but the police itself have indulged in violence against the innocent. The response of the police at Jamia in the midst of protests against the discriminatory CAA was starkly telling of this pattern. In unprecedented action, the police entered the Jamia Milia Islamia campus in Delhi on 15th December, 2019 and beat up the students with batons and used tear gas. The police have reportedly used stun guns used in terrorists operations to attack students of Jamia in their hostels and libraries leading to one student losing one of his eyes and other one losing one arm. The police action at Seelampur was also condemnable. One can’t help but notice that the police have become a brute force or army of the ruling party and wrecks violence on innocent students and Muslims whenever ordered to do so with no regard to law and order. The police indulge in shoddy investigation to allow the culprits to exploit the loopholes and go scot free.

The judiciary too has been tardy and not hearing these cases with priority, thereby delaying and now clearly denying justice. The role of the executive and the police in Uttar Pradesh has been particularly disturbing given how it has violently targeted the Muslim community leading to 23 deaths, and recovering the cost of damage from the Muslim community with a vengeance to break the very morale and backbone of the protest against the CAA.

Instead of acting as an antidote to hatred and violence, the State has actually turned against its own citizens and is attacking them in the most brutal. The State has become so overbearing that it has influenced all arenas of public knowledge and debates like it has in terms of state institutions. The media especially is influenced to only present the narrative weaved by the state and achieving this with whatever means necessary- manipulation of facts and highly partial coverage of news. Such incredibly biased reportage is shaping the popular imagination of the country and shrinking the spaces for impartial and objective public debates.


Conclusion:

2019 sees the brazen communal attitude of the State which is using all its organs to maintain a highly polarizing communal discourse. This discourse doesn’t depend on communal riots alone but has in fact found many other forms to seep into the Indian society. However, the year 2019 ended with re-invigorating energy and hope when citizens across religious identities came together to put up a determined and spirited protests to save the constitution of the country in the face of discriminatory laws pushed by this government matched only by its brutality to defend these laws. Such unity may be the anti-dote required to counter communal riots.

 

Communal Riots 2019: Communal Discourse Raging On in India

communal riots

Attitudinal violence and structural violence contribute immensely to physical violence in the forms of communal riots and mob lynching. This was the scenario facing India in 2019. There were 25 incidents of communal riots in India in 2019, and 108 incidents of mob lynching, according to the monitoring of Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS). CSSS monitors reportage of communal riots and mob lynching in the Mumbai editions of five leading newspapers- The Indian Express, The Hindu, Times of India, Inquilab and Sahafat. As per the reportage in these newspapers, the number of communal riots in 2019 (25) is lesser than 2018 where 38 communal riots were reported in the same newspapers.

Though the number of communal riots has declined, the discourse of communal violence driven by ideology of Hindutva supremacy remains the same. Newer issues are being used to heighten the discourse of communal violence- for instance the discriminatory legislation of Citizenship Amendment Bill which excludes Muslims linked with NRC, the abrogation of article 370 in Kashmir and the clamp down on communication subsequently, the demand for construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Thus, though it appears that the number of communal riots has declined, that in no way can be construed as decline in communal discourse leading to communal violence itself. If at all, through discriminatory legislations and increasing dismantling of democratic institutions which were expected to safeguard democracy, communal violence is taking deeper roots in our society. The discourse promoted by the ruling party in conjunction with the impunity and patronage given to police and non state cadre is effectively perpetrating violence against the marginalized. Even if the number of communal riots is low, communal violence has stronger manifestations in structural and attitudinal violence.


Methodology of Monitoring:

The findings of Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) are based on the reportage of communal riots reported in Mumbai editions of five newspapers- The Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindu, Sahafat and Inquilab. This is also the limitation of the findings since they are based on the city editions of only these five newspapers. In the past, CSSS could give a fair comparison between the number of communal riots emerging from its monitoring and the number of communal riots reported by the National Crimes Report Bureau (NCRB) which used to routinely place this data in the public domain. It’s interesting to note that though the Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy claimed that the Centre has zero tolerance for incidents of communal violence, it hasn’t proved this claim through figures and stopped giving out data(Scroll in, 2019). The NCRB ceasing to publish data of the communal riots from 2017 is no mere coincidence. In the past, the number of communal riots reported by the NCRB or the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was way higher than that reported by CSSS.


Sections: Communal riots and Mob Lynching

As explained last year in its report, CSSS reported that though there is a decline in the number of communal riots in India in 2018, it doesn’t imply that there is a decline in communal violence (Engineer, Dabhade, Nair, & Pendke, 2019). Communal violence is a broader term encompassing communal riots as well as mob lynching. While the number of communal riots is declining according to the reportage in the Mumbai edition of these five newspapers, the number of mob lynching is increasing. Mob lynching is an instrument to achieve the objective of sustained communal polarization by involving communal symbols like cow, the issue of love jihad or even the more innocuous pretexts like theft etc targeting the Muslims. In 2019 too, the same pattern continued where though the number of communal riots decreased, the number of mob lynching were high. Thus the report of communal violence which manifested itself in the form of physical violence is divided into two sections: Communal riots and Mob lynching.

This section will attempt to understand the salient features of communal riots in 2019.

 

Salient points:

Religion wise break up of deaths and injuries:

In 2019, from January 1 to December 31, according to the above mentioned newspapers, 25 communal riots took place in 2019. In these 25 riots, 8 lives were claimed. Out of the 8 persons deceased, three killed were Hindus, three killed were Muslims and the communities of two persons killed were not specified in the reports. The two Hindus were killed in Maharashtra and UP. In the communal riot in Maharashtra, a fight broke out between the two groups which got a communal angle. The fight broke out during a game of gambling in the Amravati resulting in the death of one Sham Phelwan. A riot ensued and subsequently two Muslims were killed in the riots. In the Muzzafarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh, again, a personal conflict over a trivial issue of kite flying between some children assumed the communal colour. Both sides confronted each other and one group entered the house of the deceased, Raj Kumar and attacked him and other family members. Raj Kumar got critically injured in the clash and later died while being taken to hospital. One Vishnu Yadav died after being attacked over the issue of stone pelting during a procession of immersion of some idols in Bihar’s district of Jehanabad. One more Muslim, Jamiruddin Tapadar died in Hailakandi, Assam. This riot was resulting from a traffic congestion caused due to Friday prayers. 54 persons were injured in these 25 incidents of communal riots.


Graph 1: Religion wise break up of deaths and injuries:

Graph1

 

Religion wise break up of Arrests:

In 25 incidents of communal riots, there were a total of 48 arrests. 47 of the arrested from 48 arrests were from unspecified community whereas one was a Muslim. There were no arrests of specifically any Hindu.
 

Graph 2: Religion wise break up of Arrests:

Graph2

Region wise break up of communal riots:

The state of Uttar Pradesh continued to top the list of states which had the most number of communal riots. Out of 25 communal riots, 9 took place in UP. This is contrary to the claim of the Chief Minister of UP who claimed that there have been no communal riots in UP after BJP came to rule (Times of India, 2019). UP was followed by the state of Maharashtra where 4 communal riots were reported in 2019.  Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir each had two communal riots in 2019. In the states of Karnataka, Haryana, Assam, Delhi, Bihar and West Bengal reported one communal riot each.

These figures indicate that communal riots have mostly been reported in the northern zone of the country and the north has been the theatre of violence with deep faultlines. The western zone of the country has been prone to communal violence traditionally. Interestingly, though no communal riots from Gujarat were reported in the Mumbai editions of the five newspapers, the local newspapers in Gujarat have reported 9 incidents of communal riots in 2019.

However it will be misleading to believe that there is little or no menace of communal violence in the South and Eastern parts of the country only because of the low number of communal riots reported from these regions. The communal discourse replete with hatred and hate speeches is very much prevalent in the east and south. The discourse is infused with newer issues like Citizenship Amendment Bill, National Register of Citizens, abrogation of article 370 in Kashmir and the overall narrative of Muslims being disloyal and second class citizens of India. Such a discourse manifesting in structural and attitudinal violence has sharply polarized the communities along religious lines. 


Graph 3: Region wise break up of communal riots:

Graph3


Triggers/ Immediate causes:

In total, nine incidents of communal riots are associated with religious processions, festivals or celebrations. As observed in the previous few years, aggressive sloganeering, deliberate loud music to instigate the other communities, deliberating planning procession routes to clash with other religious communities has been used as a pretext to trigger communal riots. Out of the – riots, four took place in the state of UP, two in Rajasthan, one in Maharashtra, one in Madhya Pradesh and one each in West Bengal and Bihar.


Graph 4: Triggers/ Immediate causes:

Graph4  

In 2019 too like in 2018, the use of religious processions and festivals has been instrumental in fomenting communal tensions leading to violence. Out of the 25 communal riots, nine were triggered off by or during religious processions. The Kanwariyas or the Kavadyatras have been given protection and state patronage in a way that the State has favoured them. Out of the nine communal riots triggered due to issues related to religious procession, three took place in UP itself. In the Badaun district of UP, stone pelting took place during a Kanwariya yatra which coincided with the timings of Id namaz. The Muslims objected to the loud religious music played in the yatra which led to the riot. In Agra, members of Bajrang Dal protested against the Muslims offering the Id namaz on the road. 70 Bajrang Dal members who were not allowed to pass through the road due to the prayers threatened to recite Hanuman Chalisa on the road. In Balrampur district of UP, stone pelting took place during the idol immersion ritual on Dussera over playing of music.

In 2019, in Hingoli district of Maharashtra, the participants in the Kavad Yatra came in conflict with a group of Muslims who were together to offer Eid prayers. The procession had devotional songs playing on speakers. Both the groups started shouting religious slogans. In Jaipur, Rajasthan, communal riot ensued after a Haridwar bound bus was pelted by stones by some Muslims and blocked the Delhi Highway. This was a fall out of the tensions with the Kanwariyas. In Tonk district of Rajasthan, stones were pelted at a Vijayadashmi procession in the town, triggering vandalism and arson. Locals staged a sit-in outside the Malpura police station and refused to burn the effigies of Ravan till their demand for immediate arrest of the miscreants was met.

In Shajapur in Madhya Pradesh, stones were pelted on a Muharram procession. During the violence some two wheelers were set on fire. In Jehanabad, Bihar, riot broke out when a stone was thrown at the procession being taken out for immersion of idols near the Arwal More. The devotees blamed by-standers belonging to another community for the same after which both sides indulged in heavy stone-pelting which had left 14 people injured. The riot claimed two lives. Several shops in the area were set on fire by the rampaging mobs and the situation was brought under control after prohibitory orders were issued.In Purba Medinipur in the state of West Bengal, Christmas celebrations in a Church were disrupted when a group of men entered the church premises raised slogans "Jai Shree Ram", attacked about 100 worshippers and vandalised the church and a vehicle belonging to the pastor. According to police, one was severely injured and others few had minor injuries and the locals appeared to be associated with the BJP as per the initial investigation.

Though religious festivals or processions remain the main reason emerging from the reportage of communal riots, there are other triggers that have led to communal riots which are insightful as far as understanding the patterns of communal riots are concerned. Rumours of cow slaughter/ beef and eve-teasing of women by members of “other” communities are still triggers for communal riots. However there is a more overt and aggressively emboldening shift in the pattern where Muslims are targeted and attacked and told to go to Pakistan, sending a message that they are second class citizens of the country and don’t belong to India. In a blatantly shocking incident in Dhamaspur in Gurgaon, members of a Muslim family and guests who had come to visit them were beaten with sticks and rods, allegedly by 20-25 men, who barged into their home and attacked them on Holi evening. The incident took place when some of the accused allegedly approached the boys from the family, who were playing cricket outside, and demanded that they “go to Pakistan and play”. During the attack the family members were beaten up mercilessly and their house was damaged along with 2 motorbikes and a car. The accused also fled with valuables from the house. This is not an isolated incident but comes in the wake of the persistent attacks on individuals across the country demanding them to chant “Jai Shri Ram” or asking Muslims to go to Pakistan, especially after the re-election of BJP in general elections.


Role of the State:

The State in its response to communal riots is guided by its ideology of Hindutva or supremacism based on religion. Muslims and other minorities are targeted by state and non- state taking cue from the hate speeches of those in power and the active network of patronage. This has allowed the violent supremacist to wreck violence with impunity. The police did not only fail to prevent the riots or bring the culprits to justice, but the police itself have indulged in violence against the innocent. The response of the police at Jamia in the midst of protests against the discriminatory CAA was starkly telling of this pattern. In unprecedented action, the police entered the Jamia Milia Islamia campus in Delhi on 15th December, 2019 and beat up the students with batons and used tear gas. The police have reportedly used stun guns used in terrorists operations to attack students of Jamia in their hostels and libraries leading to one student losing one of his eyes and other one losing one arm. The police action at Seelampur was also condemnable. One can’t help but notice that the police have become a brute force or army of the ruling party and wrecks violence on innocent students and Muslims whenever ordered to do so with no regard to law and order. The police indulge in shoddy investigation to allow the culprits to exploit the loopholes and go scot free.

The judiciary too has been tardy and not hearing these cases with priority, thereby delaying and now clearly denying justice. The role of the executive and the police in Uttar Pradesh has been particularly disturbing given how it has violently targeted the Muslim community leading to 23 deaths, and recovering the cost of damage from the Muslim community with a vengeance to break the very morale and backbone of the protest against the CAA.

Instead of acting as an antidote to hatred and violence, the State has actually turned against its own citizens and is attacking them in the most brutal. The State has become so overbearing that it has influenced all arenas of public knowledge and debates like it has in terms of state institutions. The media especially is influenced to only present the narrative weaved by the state and achieving this with whatever means necessary- manipulation of facts and highly partial coverage of news. Such incredibly biased reportage is shaping the popular imagination of the country and shrinking the spaces for impartial and objective public debates.


Conclusion:

2019 sees the brazen communal attitude of the State which is using all its organs to maintain a highly polarizing communal discourse. This discourse doesn’t depend on communal riots alone but has in fact found many other forms to seep into the Indian society. However, the year 2019 ended with re-invigorating energy and hope when citizens across religious identities came together to put up a determined and spirited protests to save the constitution of the country in the face of discriminatory laws pushed by this government matched only by its brutality to defend these laws. Such unity may be the anti-dote required to counter communal riots.

 

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HD Kumaraswamy aims guns at BJP; says Mangaluru bomb disposal mock exercise

The ex-CM incident was a controversy to create rift between two communities

23 Jan 2020

BombImage Courtesy: newindianexpress.com

Former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy told reporters on Tuesday that the entire Mangaluru bomb incident was just a “farce and the entire episode of defusing the bomb seems like a mock exercise.”

Speaking about the bag found at the Mangaluru International Airport on Monday he said, “The bag contained powder used for the manufacture of crackers. It was not a live bomb.”

He further lashed out at the government saying that incident was doctored to appease some organizations. He said, “I would like to ask the government the fact about yesterday’s bomb incident. There is no truth in it. There was no live bomb in it. It was a conspiracy to create a rift between two communities. Looking at the way the police tried to defuse the bomb, I feel like taking a decision in future to honor them duly. I have not woven stories, but I’ve been quoting the stories appearing in the media.”

“Ten kilograms of live bomb has made the people of the state panic. An iron box in the bag contained cracker powder and wire pieces in it and there were no detonators to explode it. A large container has been brought to shift the bag and defuse it. Defusing takes place only when a bomb is found. It seems like a mock exercise. Don’t try to breach the trust of people in the state. This is not a government of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or RSS. Don’t create rift between religions,” he added.

Kumaraswamy also mentioned that the incident was suspicious especially because it took place during the unrest due to the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens protests in the state. He said, “We have been witnessing developments that create a tension in the minds of the people. Mangaluru and coastal region were peaceful during the 14 months of the coalition government. Due to the central government’s decisions with regards to the CAA and NRC, we have been witnessing protests across the nation. The December 19 violence in Mangaluru has created an atmosphere where people lost trust. The government has forgotten its responsibility to solve major issues before the nation when the nation is witnessing protests and campaigns related to CAA and NRC.”

Suspecting foul play he asked, “While the Chief Minister is in Davos wooing investors, the BJP’s actions are portraying Mangaluru as a communal city. How will this help attract investments? Media reports state that the accused is an engineer and was trying to secure a job at the Mangaluru airport. Today, unemployment is a huge problem. I want to highlight this point to the attention of both the Home Minister and the Prime Minister of this country.”

Aiming his guns at the BJP, Kumaraswamy had earlier said, “That Muslims become terrorists is not the case anymore. They have given rise to a situation where even those from the Hindu community can become terrorists. Because it is Rao, no one is saying anything. Maybe, the BJP bhakts are unhappy. If it were a Muslim, they would have cashed in on it.”  

Aditya Rao, the main suspect in the case had surrendered to the Bengaluru police. The incident triggered a political slugfest thereon. Acting state Congress President Dinesh Gundu Rao on Wednesday said, “The BJP may not be happy with this news. They would have preferred it a surname other than Rao.”

Meanwhile Mangaluru city police commissioner tweeted saying that his meeting with the ex CM was nothing more than a security visit for he too was a protectee. He also said that the city police was investigating the suspected explosive material found at the Mangaluru International Airport and had made progress on available leads. He also appealed to all the leaders of society to take a responsible stand with regards to the matter.

Related:

Mangaluru: Fact-finding report unearths the reality of police brutality at anti-CAA protests
Yediyurappa reneges on compensation promise to anti-CAA protesters?
“Made to sit on the bus floor like criminals”: Detained Kerala journalists

HD Kumaraswamy aims guns at BJP; says Mangaluru bomb disposal mock exercise

The ex-CM incident was a controversy to create rift between two communities

BombImage Courtesy: newindianexpress.com

Former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy told reporters on Tuesday that the entire Mangaluru bomb incident was just a “farce and the entire episode of defusing the bomb seems like a mock exercise.”

Speaking about the bag found at the Mangaluru International Airport on Monday he said, “The bag contained powder used for the manufacture of crackers. It was not a live bomb.”

He further lashed out at the government saying that incident was doctored to appease some organizations. He said, “I would like to ask the government the fact about yesterday’s bomb incident. There is no truth in it. There was no live bomb in it. It was a conspiracy to create a rift between two communities. Looking at the way the police tried to defuse the bomb, I feel like taking a decision in future to honor them duly. I have not woven stories, but I’ve been quoting the stories appearing in the media.”

“Ten kilograms of live bomb has made the people of the state panic. An iron box in the bag contained cracker powder and wire pieces in it and there were no detonators to explode it. A large container has been brought to shift the bag and defuse it. Defusing takes place only when a bomb is found. It seems like a mock exercise. Don’t try to breach the trust of people in the state. This is not a government of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or RSS. Don’t create rift between religions,” he added.

Kumaraswamy also mentioned that the incident was suspicious especially because it took place during the unrest due to the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens protests in the state. He said, “We have been witnessing developments that create a tension in the minds of the people. Mangaluru and coastal region were peaceful during the 14 months of the coalition government. Due to the central government’s decisions with regards to the CAA and NRC, we have been witnessing protests across the nation. The December 19 violence in Mangaluru has created an atmosphere where people lost trust. The government has forgotten its responsibility to solve major issues before the nation when the nation is witnessing protests and campaigns related to CAA and NRC.”

Suspecting foul play he asked, “While the Chief Minister is in Davos wooing investors, the BJP’s actions are portraying Mangaluru as a communal city. How will this help attract investments? Media reports state that the accused is an engineer and was trying to secure a job at the Mangaluru airport. Today, unemployment is a huge problem. I want to highlight this point to the attention of both the Home Minister and the Prime Minister of this country.”

Aiming his guns at the BJP, Kumaraswamy had earlier said, “That Muslims become terrorists is not the case anymore. They have given rise to a situation where even those from the Hindu community can become terrorists. Because it is Rao, no one is saying anything. Maybe, the BJP bhakts are unhappy. If it were a Muslim, they would have cashed in on it.”  

Aditya Rao, the main suspect in the case had surrendered to the Bengaluru police. The incident triggered a political slugfest thereon. Acting state Congress President Dinesh Gundu Rao on Wednesday said, “The BJP may not be happy with this news. They would have preferred it a surname other than Rao.”

Meanwhile Mangaluru city police commissioner tweeted saying that his meeting with the ex CM was nothing more than a security visit for he too was a protectee. He also said that the city police was investigating the suspected explosive material found at the Mangaluru International Airport and had made progress on available leads. He also appealed to all the leaders of society to take a responsible stand with regards to the matter.

Related:

Mangaluru: Fact-finding report unearths the reality of police brutality at anti-CAA protests
Yediyurappa reneges on compensation promise to anti-CAA protesters?
“Made to sit on the bus floor like criminals”: Detained Kerala journalists

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Cyberabad Police slammed for replying to Twitter user’s tweet on ‘Jihadis’

People questioned the police’s implicit support to a tweet that could be termed as ‘Islamophobic’

09 Jan 2020

TweetImage Courtesy: siasat.com

The Cyberabad Police found itself in a soup, minutes after it replied to a Twitter user, Suresh Kochattil who asked if the Cyberabad force was conducting background checks in American software companies citing that many ‘wannabe jihadis’ worked there.

https://twitter.com/kochattil/status/1214251486466564097       

The Cyberabad Police replied with the following response.

https://twitter.com/cyberabadpolice/status/1214256337288171520

Soon after, not only politicians and activists, but even the general public, began to question the police for implicitly endorsing Suresh’s partisan views against a particular community. Facing the heat, the Cyberabad police issued a statement to the Telangana DGP clarifying its reply to Kochattil.

https://twitter.com/cyberabadpolice/status/1214837710185103360

However, the people wouldn’t have it. From questioning how the Cyberabad police defined ‘wannabe jihadis’, what exactly they were monitoring, and why they hadn’t booked Kochattil for what constituted as hate speech instead, the angry Twitterati alleged that the police was indulging in the religious profiling of certain communities.

https://twitter.com/asadowaisi/status/1214765278355050496       

https://twitter.com/Shehla_Rashid/status/1214734724901396482

https://twitter.com/indohistoricus/status/1215108299076636678

https://twitter.com/yehlog/status/1214775028857704448 

https://twitter.com/zuberpasha33/status/1214954694751031296 

https://twitter.com/digitaldutta/status/1214813142502363136 

https://twitter.com/TawakkkalAllah/status/1215153662172884995

Twitterati alleged that instead of reprimanding Kochattil, the police ended up encouraging his inflammatory thoughts; especially at a time when the country’s minorities are gripped with the fear of being branded as ‘outcasts’ in their own country.

Related:

Enactment of the CAA has sparked a primordial fear among Muslims
In a first, BJP leader, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi objects to the ‘Go to Pakistan’ slogan for Indian Muslims
Hate speech runs through the veins of the Vijayvargiyas

Cyberabad Police slammed for replying to Twitter user’s tweet on ‘Jihadis’

People questioned the police’s implicit support to a tweet that could be termed as ‘Islamophobic’

TweetImage Courtesy: siasat.com

The Cyberabad Police found itself in a soup, minutes after it replied to a Twitter user, Suresh Kochattil who asked if the Cyberabad force was conducting background checks in American software companies citing that many ‘wannabe jihadis’ worked there.

https://twitter.com/kochattil/status/1214251486466564097       

The Cyberabad Police replied with the following response.

https://twitter.com/cyberabadpolice/status/1214256337288171520

Soon after, not only politicians and activists, but even the general public, began to question the police for implicitly endorsing Suresh’s partisan views against a particular community. Facing the heat, the Cyberabad police issued a statement to the Telangana DGP clarifying its reply to Kochattil.

https://twitter.com/cyberabadpolice/status/1214837710185103360

However, the people wouldn’t have it. From questioning how the Cyberabad police defined ‘wannabe jihadis’, what exactly they were monitoring, and why they hadn’t booked Kochattil for what constituted as hate speech instead, the angry Twitterati alleged that the police was indulging in the religious profiling of certain communities.

https://twitter.com/asadowaisi/status/1214765278355050496       

https://twitter.com/Shehla_Rashid/status/1214734724901396482

https://twitter.com/indohistoricus/status/1215108299076636678

https://twitter.com/yehlog/status/1214775028857704448 

https://twitter.com/zuberpasha33/status/1214954694751031296 

https://twitter.com/digitaldutta/status/1214813142502363136 

https://twitter.com/TawakkkalAllah/status/1215153662172884995

Twitterati alleged that instead of reprimanding Kochattil, the police ended up encouraging his inflammatory thoughts; especially at a time when the country’s minorities are gripped with the fear of being branded as ‘outcasts’ in their own country.

Related:

Enactment of the CAA has sparked a primordial fear among Muslims
In a first, BJP leader, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi objects to the ‘Go to Pakistan’ slogan for Indian Muslims
Hate speech runs through the veins of the Vijayvargiyas

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Close to 500 families or more, all Muslim, evicted: Assam

07 Jan 2020

Assam

GUWAHATI: As many as 426 Muslim families, totaling 1800 persons have been evicted from their houses in Chotia assembly constituency of district Bishwanath of Assam, arbitrarily without following due process, since December 6. Their houses have been demolished by the administration. Tragically, all these families having their names in the National Register of Citizens(NRC), a proof of being genuine Indian citizens in Assam, now no roof over their heads in this chilly winter, nor food. They also don’t have warm clothes to protect themselves from cold weather. CJP’s Team Assam has been at the forefront of collecting and distributing blankets and other aid to the evicted. The pictures below show the activities of CJP’s Team Assam. So far there has been scant media coverage due to the internet shutdown in Guwahati and other parts of the state owing to anti-CAA agitation all over the state.

Sabrangindia exclusively covered the Assam government’s new land policy which aims to “evict” without due process hundreds of thousands Bengali Hindus and Muslims. Tabled in the Assam Assembly on November 28, 2019, discussion on it was deferred after the opposition raised serious questions on the discriminatory move. Though the speaker of Assam Assembly Mr. Hitendra Nath Goswami issued a ruling in the Assembly stating that the new land policy will be implemented only after proper discussion (during the January-February 2020 session) the state Government has begun this controversial policy of eviction in various parts of the state with scant regard for legal niceties.

 

Assam

Currently, all the evicted families live in tent filled camps with meagre facilities in the bitter cold of winter.

Assam

Assam

Assam

Related:

1.      EXCLUSIVE: BJP Govt plans to evict 70 lakh Muslims, 60 lakh Bengali Hindus through its Land Policy (2019) in Assam

2.       Devil’s Arithmetic in Assam: 1.29 lakh ‘declared foreigners’, 970 in detention camps, 6 deported

3.       Without defining who the ‘indigenous’ are, Assam Cabinet passes Land Policy for indigenous people

 

Close to 500 families or more, all Muslim, evicted: Assam

Assam

GUWAHATI: As many as 426 Muslim families, totaling 1800 persons have been evicted from their houses in Chotia assembly constituency of district Bishwanath of Assam, arbitrarily without following due process, since December 6. Their houses have been demolished by the administration. Tragically, all these families having their names in the National Register of Citizens(NRC), a proof of being genuine Indian citizens in Assam, now no roof over their heads in this chilly winter, nor food. They also don’t have warm clothes to protect themselves from cold weather. CJP’s Team Assam has been at the forefront of collecting and distributing blankets and other aid to the evicted. The pictures below show the activities of CJP’s Team Assam. So far there has been scant media coverage due to the internet shutdown in Guwahati and other parts of the state owing to anti-CAA agitation all over the state.

Sabrangindia exclusively covered the Assam government’s new land policy which aims to “evict” without due process hundreds of thousands Bengali Hindus and Muslims. Tabled in the Assam Assembly on November 28, 2019, discussion on it was deferred after the opposition raised serious questions on the discriminatory move. Though the speaker of Assam Assembly Mr. Hitendra Nath Goswami issued a ruling in the Assembly stating that the new land policy will be implemented only after proper discussion (during the January-February 2020 session) the state Government has begun this controversial policy of eviction in various parts of the state with scant regard for legal niceties.

 

Assam

Currently, all the evicted families live in tent filled camps with meagre facilities in the bitter cold of winter.

Assam

Assam

Assam

Related:

1.      EXCLUSIVE: BJP Govt plans to evict 70 lakh Muslims, 60 lakh Bengali Hindus through its Land Policy (2019) in Assam

2.       Devil’s Arithmetic in Assam: 1.29 lakh ‘declared foreigners’, 970 in detention camps, 6 deported

3.       Without defining who the ‘indigenous’ are, Assam Cabinet passes Land Policy for indigenous people

 

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