When will this madness end? When will the rulers clamp down against the self-styled protectors of Hindu dharma? When can citizens of all faiths and creeds, all regions and religions, live without fear of the goons and the louts who kill and maim without provocation in the name of ‘gau raksha’ or love-jihad’ or any such ephemeral cause? The republican idea of equality and equity for all citizens regardless of their religion, colour or geographical background needs to be defended stoutly by the designated keepers of law and order. Unfortunately, there is substance in the charge that a climate of violence has been created which encourages the fringe claiming proximity to the ruling party to vent its violent spleen against the hapless members of the minority community. Someone in power must call a halt to this murderous spree.
The greatest onus is on the highest in the authority in the States and at the Centre to send out a stern message that such barbaric acts will attract the stiffest punishment prescribed in the statute book. Nothing less will satisfy the minimum demands of a decent society pillared on a rule of law which guarantees all citizens’ liberty, equality and fraternity. The latest in the catalogue of inhumane acts perpetrated allegedly in the name of the Hindu religion has come from Rajasthan. A migrant labourer, Mohammed Afrazul, 47, hailing from Malda, West Bengal, was killed by a lone attacker, with his stomach pierced with a sharp object and his body burnt, in Rajsamand district of the State. The barbaric act was videotaped by the assailant’s nephew who uploaded it on social media. The killer is heard ranting against ‘love-jihad.’
Apparently, the killer was a member of a WhatsApp group which counted a BJP MP and an MLA as its members. Since the crime, the two have disassociated from the said group. But, whether or not, the motive of the killer was a private dispute over the alleged liaison of the victim with a woman or it was the ingrained hatred of the Muslim, is not clear. But what is his proximity to a section of the Sangh parivar? Mercifully, the killer has been arrested and is to be charged with the cold-blooded murder. A few months earlier, one Pehlu Khan was waylaid for allegedly taking a cow for slaughter and murdered. The perpetrators are now on bail. In the neighbouring Haryana, a young Muslim youth was killed while travelling on a local train by a group of rowdy goons who entered into a violent altercation with him. His killers too are out on bail and there are reports of the prosecution trying to subvert the trial process. Again, a number of such inhuman acts were widely reported from UP in which Muslims were the targets of hate crimes.
There is not an iota of doubt that the perpetrators of these barbaric acts feel encouraged by the fact that BJP governments are in power in the States where they commit them and also at the Centre. Indeed, some of the vile remarks of senior party members and even ministers targeting the minorities have served to instigate the fringe. Minorities feel doubly insecure under a BJP government. In recent years, following the rise of jihadi groups and fundamentalist Islam, members of the majority community have found greater reason to nurse their ingrained sense of prejudice and hatred of the Muslims. Continuing terrorist incursions into Kashmir and the periodic attacks by jihadis on the army and the security forces exacerbate the inherent anti-Muslim sensibilities of a large section of the population.
And when rabid Muslim leaders like Asaduddin Owaisi and others of his ilk spew venom against the Sangh parivar in an unbridled manner, they only provide provocation to the goons and louts who serve as the foot soldiers of most political parties. Indeed, the kind of statements emanating from the members of the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal following the gruesome killing of Afrazul underline the folly of counter-communalism by the self-styled defenders of the Muslims. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, has seized on the incident with an eye on the nearly one-third Muslim vote in her State. She dispatched a high-powered delegation of her party leaders to meet with the family of the victim and sanctioned the widow an ex-gratia payment of Rs three lakhs. Competitive communal fire with an eye on the minority and majority vote-banks respectively will not allow saner elements to prevail. Neither case is helpful in creating a conducive climate for inter-community peace and harmony. Since the BJP is in power at the Centre, the leadership needs to send out a strong message, reiterating faith in the cardinal principles of the Republic – and warn the law-breakers of the sternest possible action.