BY ABDUS SATTAR GHAZALI
While the entire country was seeing a video clip of Muslim youths being thrashed black and blue on the suspicion of carrying beef, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was addressing a meeting of National Democratic Alliance’s newly elected members of Parliament, Times of India reported.
On May 22, the day before counting of votes, three Muslims, including a couple, were beaten up by cow vigilantes in Madhya Pradesh. Self-proclaimed gau rakshaks thrashed them after getting a tip-off that a Muslim couple and one other youth, travelling in an auto, were carrying beef in Seoni, Madhya Pradesh.
The video of the incident, which went viral on social media, showed goons descending on the youths with sticks as onlookers stood by. They also forced the youth to chant ‘Jai Shree Ram’ slogans while forcing one of the youths to beat the woman who was accompanying them.
Here are few more violence against Muslims and Dalits:
Youth shot at in Begusarai after he reveals his ‘Muslim name’
A youth Mohammad Qasim was shot at in Begusarai district of Bihar on Sunday (May 26) morning after he was asked his name. A video of the injured youth speaking about the incident has gone viral on social media.
Qasim is a detergent salesman and he had gone to Kumbhi village on his bike for his business purposes.
“I was stopped by Rajiv Yadav and he asked me my name…when I told him my name he fired at me and said you should go to Pakistan,” said Qasim in the video and FIR lodged at the local police station.
Shot in the back, Qasim is heard saying in the video that “no one witnessing the incident came to his rescue and somehow” he reached the police station and the police took him to the sadar (town) government hospital for further treatment.
On May 26, a 25-year-old Muslim man was assaulted in Gurgaon by four unidentified youths for wearing traditional skull cap. The victim, a native of Bihar, was beaten by the attackers.
“The accused threatened me, saying wearing cap was not allowed in the area. They removed my cap and slapped me, while asking me to chant Bharat Mata ki Jai,” Alam said in the FIR, lodged at the city police station, reported PTI. Alam was returning home after offering prayer in a mosque.
Jharkhand Adivasi Professor arrested for FB post written in 2017
On May 25, an Adivasi (indigenous) professor was arrested over a Facebook post where he mentioned the right to eat beef. He was attending a cultural function near Sakchi with some friends and staying at a hotel when police came and arrested him.
Jeetrai Hansda, a professor at the Government School and College for Women, Sakchi, in Jharkhand was arrested on Saturday, after a complaint was filed against him in June 2017 based on a Facebook post he had written.
Last year, on May 29, Hansda had posted: “Tribals do eat beef while performing last rites and during various festivals. Just because of a law banning cow slaughter, why should we stop our tradition of having beef and follow Hindu tradition.
“It will be an end to tribal existence and we would not accept this. We raise objection over such law by the government. I would like to inform that we also eat national bird of the country ‘peacock’. If tribals too belong to India, the lawmakers should stop making such law to save tribal tradition and identity….”
Gau rakshaks vandalize dairy alleging cow slaughter
On May 26, a group of self-styled gau rakshaks entered a dairy in Raipur, Chhattisgarh and accused people in the shop of cow slaughter and the sale of beef. They assaulted them and vandalised the shop.
Next day, at least 50 men belonging to BJP-affiliate Bajrang Dal alleged that the dairy owner Qureshi be arrested on cow slaughter charges, reported Indian Express. They alleged that they found bones behind the shop. However, police officers said there is no such evidence.
In Gujarat, a mob of 200-300 upper caste people allegedly attacked the house of a Dalit couple in Mahuvad village on Vadodra, after the husband allegedly put up a Facebook post saying that the government does not permit the village temple to be used for Dalit wedding ceremonies.
The Dalit woman filed a police complaint and got an FIR registered against 11 people and mob of 200-300 people for attacking her house, pelting stones and thrashing her husband.
Another Muslim man ends life over NRC shame
A Muslim man, believed to be in his early 90s, ended his life in Assam on the prospect of being declared a foreigner and sent to detention centre. Ashraf Ali’s body was found from a school campus, close to his hut in Sontoli in Boko, 70 kms west of Guwahati, Janta Ka Reporter reported Sunday.
93-year-old Ashrab Ali’s name was in the National Register for Citizenship (NRC) draft list but someone filed an objection prompting the authorities to call his entire family for a hearing on 23 May. Ali was the 23rd Muslim to end his life over the issue till date since 2015 when the updation process started with most victims belonging to poor families.
Minorities living in fear
Shweta Sengar of India Times wrote, with BJP coming back to power with stonking majority, the spirits of such fringe outfits have emboldened. The minorities have been attacked continuously over their religion, food choice and caste.
“There has been a significant increase in hate crimes against Muslims in recent years. Some fear the world’s largest democracy is becoming dangerously intolerant of the minorities living in the country…. In the entire election campaign, the BJP rode high on Hindu nationalism,” Shweta said adding:
“The state of affairs does not seem to improve anytime soon unless law and order situation in the country is tightened and minorities are also treated as citizens of India, like anyone else. The change must start from the top and not from the grassroots level, where top leaders of the ruling government come out in support of minorities and ensure attackers be prosecuted immediately.”
The India Times also reproduced The Guardian editorial to emphasize its point of view about minorities, particularly Muslims in India.
The Guardian editorial on the victory of Narendra Modi had noted that the mandate is “changing India for the worse.” Stressing that “it stands for the flagrant social dominance of the upper castes of Hindu society, pro-corporate economic growth, cultural conservatism, intensified misogyny, and a firm grip on the instruments of state power. The landslide win for Mr Modi will see India’s soul lost to a dark politics – one that views almost all 195 million Indian Muslims as second-class citizens.”
Murders of religious minorities in India go unpunished: HRW
The Indian authorities have delayed investigating a wave of vigilante-style murders of religious minorities, with many instead working to justify the attacks or file charges against some of the victims’ families, according to a report released in February 2019 by Human Rights Watch. The 104-page report said that since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party took power in 2014, attacks led by so-called cow protection groups have jumped sharply.
Between May 2015 and December 2018, at least 44 people have been killed, Human Rights Watch found. Most of the victims were Muslims accused of storing beef or transporting cows for slaughter, a crime in most Indian states. Many Hindus, who form about 80 percent of India’s population, consider cows sacred.
Data cited in the report from FactChecker.in, an Indian organization that tracks reports of violence, found that as many as 90 percent of religion-based hate crimes in the last decade occurred after Mr. Modi took office. Mobs hung victims from trees, frequently mutilated victims and burned bodies.
In almost all of these attacks, victims’ families faced significant pushback when they pressed for justice. The police “initially stalled investigations, ignored procedures, or even played a complicit role in the killings and cover-up of crimes,” the report said.
“Indian police investigations into mob attacks are almost as likely to accuse the minority victims of a crime as they are to pursue vigilantes with government connections,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia director of Human Rights Watch.
Released ahead of national elections this April and May, the report, called “Violent Cow Protection in India: Vigilante Groups Attack Minorities,” also looks at the government’s response to 11 recent attacks that killed 14 people.
According to a survey from NDTV cited by Human Rights Watch, “communally divisive language” in speeches by elected officials shot up nearly 500 percent between 2014 and 2018, compared with the five years before the B.J.P. came to power. Ninety percent of those speeches were from the B.J.P., which has ties to far-right Hindu nationalist groups.
“We will hang those who kill cows,” Raman Singh, a member of the B.J.P. and the former chief minister of Chhattisgarh state, said in 2017.
The report said this sort of rhetoric, paired with the profusion of stricter cow protection laws, had emboldened mob attacks. They included assaults of Muslim men and women in trains; the stripping and beating of lower-caste Dalits in western India; the force-feeding of cow dung and urine to two men in northern India; the rape of two women and the killing of two men in the state of Haryana for allegedly eating beef at home.
Some of the attacks were filmed, suggesting that the mobs did not fear retribution for their actions, said Harsh Mander, an Indian social worker and writer.