By Heli Shukla:
Hate is an ugly word, hatred is an uglier sentiment. Fanning the sentiment of hate only to spew it out violently and belligerently against a fellow human is a crime of the highest accord. Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh, the 28 year old gruesomely murdered in Pune last Monday unfortunately stands as a victim of the same. He was an unlikely target in what can only be called a ‘hate crime’. Shaikh was murdered for ‘looking like a Muslim’. He was killed by extremists who mindlessly put their gratuitous religious ideologies over logic and humanity.
Mohsin was an IT professional living in a communally peaceful city, Pune. The city was tense over morphed pictures of late Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji that were doing the rounds on social media. The Hindu Rashtra Sena, a relatively unknown Hindu extremist outfit, decided to use this to their advantage. Shaikh ended up falling prey to the same. All 17 of its members were arrested following the incident.
Shaikh’s death points to the state government’s inaction in condemning religious fanaticism. The Hindu Rashtriya Sena has not been banned and neither have the accused faced any strong action. The State government meanwhile is issuing misleading statements related to the incident. On being asked about police probe against the accused, CM Prithiviraj Chauhan was quoted as saying that the police would be investigating ‘whether the violence was due to a result in the change in government”.
Why is the State government issuing a petty political statement when it could be out changing this situation for the better? Why aren’t HRS members being punished for being the murderers that they are? Their anger over an anonymous Facebook post allegedly posted by a Muslim is what led to this attack. Why isn’t the source of that post being looked into? Lack of condemnation on the part of the State and Central government may encourage several other such groups to repeat such incidents.
State and Central governments have always been largely ignorant when it comes to hate crimes. Be it the killing of Nido Taniam, a 20 year old student from Arunachal Pradesh or large scale communal violence like the Muzzafarnagar riots. These hate crimes that affect individuals and entire masses, have their perpetrators roaming free. Such individuals incite hatred into societies that want nothing but peace and use fellow humans as shields for their illogical actions. The surprising bit being, these criminals almost always escape unhurt.
Hate crimes when magnified turn into incidents of mass violence. As Indians, we still live in the shadows of several such incidents. Right from the partition to Mohsin Shaikh’s murder, they have graduated to fit in with the changing times. What hasn’t changed is the aftermath of such incidents. The survivors are treated with greater injustice and their offenders are encouraged to continue with their actions.
Unexpectedly enough, the Central government has been more convincing than the State government. It has issued a statement demanding a detailed report on the incident and has promised compensation to Mohsin’s family. The State government is yet to respond with any such action, probably keeping in mind the upcoming assembly elections. What is refreshing however is seeing the newly elected BJP government making its stand clear on not supporting or encouraging Hindutva outfits. Whether or not their actions result into justice for Shaikh remains to be seen.
Mohsin makes a case for most hate crimes that occur throughout our country. The preamble of our constitution deems us to be secular citizens of the republic and yet, a few amongst us absolve ourselves off that responsibility entirely. No act of violence is acceptable, especially one that is committed for tearing down another human’s beliefs.