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“Why Did The Boy Go Inside The Temple?” And Other Talking Points That Need To Stop

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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.

narsinghanand saraswati
Narsinghanand Saraswati.

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.

sign outside dasna devi temple
Sign outside Dasna Devi temple in Ghaziabad.

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.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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