On April 10, Ram Navami processions came under fierce attack from Muslims in Jharkhand (Lohardaga, Bermo), Madhya Pradesh (Khargone, Sendhwa, Indore), Rajasthan (Karauli), Maharashtra (Mankhurd), West Bengal (Howrah) and Odisha (Joda). Stones and bombs rained from rooftops, shops and vehicles were burnt and looted, temples were desecrated, houses ransacked and scores of persons suffered injuries, some grievously, at the hands of marauders who were armed with swords, clubs, hatchets and boulders. An uneasy calm prevails as of now but how long it will last is difficult to say.
You wonder why Ram Navami which signifies the victory of Ram over Ravan or victory of good (dharma) over evil (adharma) should evoke such mindless violence. Muslims allege that Hindu activists raised provocative slogans and made offensive gestures as they passed by mosques and marched through ‘communally sensitive’ areas. How can this be a reason to go on a rampage unless it had already been planned to serve a sinister religious agenda?
Liberals claim that Muslims’ aggressive reaction is actually borne out of a sense of fear, nurtured by radical clerics and groups like Peoples Front of India (PFI) and Campus Front of India (CFI), that India is about to become a Hindu Rashtra and they must stand up before their religious and social practices get overwhelmed. They refer to CAA, NRC, ban on halal, hijab and azan, population control, uniform civil code etc. to prove their point. But how can pent-up anger be addressed by using stacked stones and firebombs in a civilised society? Aren’t they aware that India has a judiciary that jealously guards an inclusive Constitution and proactively protects the interests of those being socially and religiously discriminated?
The biggest casualty in the clashes has been the rule of law. Police either connived, acted indifferently or came into action after the damage was done. The question is: how do we rescue the situation from getting worse? Options are that you ban PFI and CFI but they would spring up again in more virulent forms and with a larger base. Second, think of dismantling the pugnacious idea of having ‘Muslim and Hindu’ or ‘sensitive’ and ‘non-sensitive’ localities because exclusivity militates against cooperative living.
Lastly, make the police free from political and bureaucratic control while holding it accountable for its lapses. If none of this is feasible, then let states prone to communal riots learn a few lessons from CM Yogi Adityanath who has not allowed any such incidents to take place in Uttar Pradesh. It’s not that Muslims love Yogi. In fact, they dislike him intensely and overwhelmingly voted against him in recent state elections.
Yet, they never considered avenging their unhappiness by attacking Hindus’ religious processions.
Former special secretary, Research and Analysis Wing