A 14-year-old Muslim boy was beaten inside a temple by a Sevak, Shringi Yadav, for the “unthinkable” crime of drinking water from a tap inside the temple. The video, shot by another disciple of the temple’s priest, shows the perpetrator asking the boy his name and subsequently beating him. Yadav and Shivanand Saraswati, the man who shot the video, were arrested after the it went viral.
The Sevaks are disciples of head priest Narsinghanand Saraswati, a bigot who has a history of spreading Islamophobic messages. He praised Yadav for his actions and only regretted that they shot the video. Some of his followers were also directly involved in the 2020 Delhi Pogrom.
Members of the temple management committee have extended support to Yadav and Saraswati and are working to free them. Apologists have taken to the task of justifying Yadav’s actions and have hinted at a conspiracy.
“There is a sign outside that prohibits Muslims from entering.”
“Why did the boy have to go inside the temple to drink water? There was a tap outside.”
“We condemn the incident, BUT…”
But what? “Why do you never talk about Hindus being beaten?”
Let’s talk about them.
In Jhajjar, Haryana, five Dalit men — Virender, Raju, Dayachand, Tota Ram and Kailash — were killed on suspicions of cow slaughter. The incident took place in 2002.
In Khairlanji, Maharashtra, Dalit farmer Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange’s family — his wife, daughter and two sons — were killed by a violent mob of villagers. The incident took place in 2006.
In Una, Gujarat, seven members of a Dalit family were beaten for skinning a dead cow. Four members of the family — Vashram, Ramesh, Ashok and Bechar — were flogged publically while being taken to the police station.
People who proceed with a “BUT” after their condemnation don’t really care about the problem. Their contempt for minorities in this country overshadows everything. They don’t care about the violent incident. Their condemnation is mere posturing before they spew their whataboutery.
Countless other incidents of assaults and lynchings have taken place against minorities in the country, especially since the BJP came to power in 2014.
These incidents have been normalised by the same people who spoke up only during the Palghar lynchings — where three Sadhus were lynched by a mob on suspicions of being child-thieves. In the aftermath of the incident, news channels and right-wing “intellectuals” tried to communalise the incident. They claimed (ironically, on national TV) that the incident wasn’t being talked about because the victims weren’t part of a minority community.
The Palghar incident was heartbreaking, but the Sadhus weren’t lynched because of their religion or identity. Several such incidents involving minorities do occur because they are part of a particular community. The same people who were outspoken during the Palghar lynchings justify it in other cases.
The talking point and rhetoric of “liberals only talk about minorities” is remanufactured every time such incidents occur. It does nothing but further the enmity. Pehlu Khan and Tabrez Ansari were talked about and have now been forgotten. Talking about them didn’t really change how Muslims are viewed and treated.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), on the other hand, seems to be more concerned about the portrayal of children in Netflix series Bombay Begum than how children are actually being treated in this country.
The FIR in the assault case was only filed after the video of the incident went viral. The child’s father didn’t file an FIR because “he did not want to invite any more trouble”. In an environment where people are afraid to file complaints against perpetrators, why do we expect change?
And for those who think this was part of some big conspiracy since there is a sign that prohibits Muslims from entering, the father said that his son was illiterate and couldn’t have read it.
In the almost 30 second video of the incident, Yadav first says, “Badhiya se dono ka chehra ana chahiye (make sure both our faces are seen in the video).” The child, unknowing, initially seems to have a smile on his face while Yadav asks him his name. As Yadav starts beating the child, he pleads, “Pani peene aye the uncle (I came to drink water).” Saraswati, who is taking the video, can be heard saying Jane de (leave him) while Yadav keeps kicking the child.
The video is an extension of our society, where minorities in this country are beaten and killed and people in the background “speak up” but never really take any substantial action to stop the violence.