Does chanting certain slogans make you more patriotic? What if one refuses to chant them? Does refusal make one less patriotic or more of a traitor? What if the young Muslim man in the Hisar Masjid of Haryana would have chanted ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’? Would the forced chanting make him a lesser Muslim?
The deteriorating law and order situation in Haryana and other parts of India has gotten on the nerves of minorities and puts them at the receiving end. Muslims in Haryana constitute a tiny minority of 7.03 % and in Hisar, they make a meagre 1.24% according to the 2011 Census.
The recent incident where a young Muslim man called Mohammed Haroon Kasni was slapped after he was dragged out of the city Masjid in Hisar by Bajrang Dal activists is a brazen example of growing anarchy in the state. The police have arrested the local man who allegedly slapped Haroon, who hails from the Saharanpur district in Uttar Pradesh and had come to Hisar, his maiden visit, to sell mangoes.
But, I wonder, what sort of action the police will take against the mob that participated in a rally, organized to condemn the terrorist strike on Amarnath pilgrims, and suddenly diverted it towards the mosque. The unruly mob then dragged one man with a beard and skull cap and demanded that he chant certain slogans. The victim said if the police had not intervened, he would have been killed. The timely intercession of the police is a gallantry act and should be commended. But the tragic incident raises worrying queries.
Was the mob venting out its hidden hatred for the Muslim community that has recently been a soft target of cow vigilante mobs across India? Or was chanting slogans outside the mosque meant to create panic among the local Muslims and to subjugate them further. Was the diversion of the mob from the road towards the mosque a pre-meditated conspiracy as is the case with all instances of communal violence targeted against the marginalized sections of the society?
In his book, “Forms of Collective Violence”, Paul Richard Brass, dwells upon the three phases of violence in which it is produced: preparation/rehearsal, activation/enactment, and explanation/interpretation. In view of this analysis, it may be assumed that the Hisar mob targeted the mosque as per the planning and it was not spontaneous as it was made to appear.
Given the growing violence against religious minorities and Dalits, I assume the hatred has been ingrained and its root grows deeper each passing day. The socio-economic milieu in Haryana has undergone a massive change since BJP swept to power in the state in October 2014.
The right-wing elements are on the rise. The fringe groups such as Bajrang Dal and cow vigilante groups affiliated to RSS are out with the venom of unprecedented hatred. The impunity and political patronage these groups enjoy are worryingly disturbing.
The memories of infamous Dingerheri twin-murder and alleged gang rape of two women are still fresh as justice evades in the notorious and horrific incident in which four alleged armed robbers unleashed gruesome violence on a helpless family who happened to be living on the margins of Kundli-Manesar Expressway. The incident took place in the last week of August 2016, outraged the conscience of Muslim community in particular and Indian citizens in general.
The aftermath of Dingerheri violence saw a lackadaisical approach from the police state. The police, initially, filed a normal theft and robbery case. It was much later when under the pressure the civil society mounted on the police and the state that the draconian sections of 302 and 307 were imposed on the accused who happened to be members of cow vigilante groups with an affiliation to the Sangh Parivar.
It was only in December 2016, that the state government ordered a CBI probe into the case. The CBI is yet to submit its report in the case. The Indian investigative authorities are known for their unnecessary delays and biased probes. And this case is not an exception.
In the meantime, the growing hatred was reported once again when four Muslim youths were subjected to a mob attack in Mathura-bound local train plying from Delhi. The assailants attacked the culprits with a knife killing one 16-year-old Junaid and critically injuring others after targeting them with communal slurs.
All these incidents prove beyond doubt that the rise of BJP and its maiden victory in Haryana has emboldened the right-wing fringe groups who tend to think that the government is on their side and would protect them if they encountered any problem.
Image Source: Screengrab from ABP News’ coverage of mob violence in Hisar