Crime And Justice

“Scapegoats and Holy Cows”

Ram Puniyani

In the case of Jamia violence of 2019, 11 students were arrested. One of them was Sharjeel Imam, who was a student of JNU. The others included likes of Safoora Zargar and Asif Iqbal Tanha. While discharging those Court observes, “police was unable to apprehend “actual perpetrators” and “surely managed to rope them (accused) as scapegoats in the matter.” Court also noticed that police had been filing supplementary charge sheets with nothing new to offer. Surely it was to drag the case and keep these eleven in the jail. Many others like Umar Khalid who were talking of harmony and peace are behind the bar while Anurag Thakur got promotion from Minister of state to Cabinet minister after his provocative comment-Goli maro (Shoot them).

In the wake of Covid-19, it came to be known that many Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) members were having a conclave in Delhi. Some had come from abroad. The pro-government media seized the opportunity and blamed the TJ members for the spread of Corona calling it Corona Jihad and Corona Bomb, many delegates were arrested. Around the same time a massive Namaste Trump meeting was held in Ahmadabad, Kanika Kapoor a noted singer had come from aboard and was holding many shows, a Sikh Granthi who had come from abroad was having many meetings. Those arrested underwent a painful ordeal and later were released as High Court observed, “A political Government tries to find the scapegoat when there is pandemic or calamity and the circumstances show that there is probability that these foreigners were chosen to make them scapegoats. The aforesaid circumstances and the latest figures of infection in India show that such action against present petitioners should not have been taken.”

In the wake of series of blasts--- Malegaon, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer--- many Muslim youth were arrested and later released for the lack of any evidence, but meanwhile their careers stood ruined and their families defamed. ANHAD, the human rights organisation did come out with a report “Scapegoats and Holy Cows”. Similarly Jamia Teachers Association published a report, ‘Framed, Dammed and Acquitted’. The report points out as to how usually Muslims are implicated, tried and later released after long period of imprisonment. It is the Courts which occasionally come to their rescue and they are released.

There is ‘other’ side of the story. Many saffronites owing their allegiance to sectarian agenda spread hate without being booked. One recalls the fairly recent utterance of the Bhopal MP, Pragya Singh Thakur, who is currently on bail in Malegaon blast case, asking people to keep sharp knives for punishing those indulging in love jihad. There are rallies where Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders are seen and Hate speech is blurted in gay abandon.

One ‘Hindu Janakrosh Morcha’ held over 20 rallies in Maharashtra and spewed hate against Muslim community on the issue of conversion and love jihad. It had planned a rally in Mumbai on 6th February in which in addition of conversion and love jihad it was to give the call of boycott Muslim traders. The petition was filed against its plan. The Court in its wisdom directed the police to take action against Hate speech under section 151. When this provision is there why have the police not taking any action remains unanswered.

A rally of various HIndutva groups was held in Delhi at Jantar Mantar (5th Feb 2023), where the call was given to stock weapons to kill Muslims and Christians. As per a report in The Scroll “In one of the videos, which has been widely shared on social media, a monk is seen asking Hindus to stock weapons to kill Muslims and Christians. In another video, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Suraj Pal Amu is seen calling for violence…” People have been witnessing such calls being given in Dharm Sansads by the likes of Yati Narsinghnand and company, who surely are having a state cover and enjoy the impunity. Many FIRS were lodged against him for his comments against women and his Hardwar Dharm Sansad Hate speech. He was even arrested but later got bail with ease.

On the contrary the Muslim youth are generally put under UAPA and other notorious acts where the bail is difficult or the deliberate delay is organised by authorities to keep them in jails. The Hindutva/BJP/Saffron clad saints are put against mild charges and jail is exceptionally rare if at all.

In a way two sets of justice delivery systems have developed in the society due to the rise of communal politics. The myths, prejudices and biases against minority communities are very deep-rooted due to organised propaganda. Large section of media, IT cell, and thousands of Whatsapp groups have been set up by them. At one level, the ground level shakhas work the type of history stories about Shivaji, Govind Singh, Rana Pratap vis a vis Allauddin Khilji, Aurangzeb and Muslim rulers in general are the staple diet on which the swayam-sevaks of RSS are trained in a thorough manner. Their further deepening occurs at pracharak level after months of indoctrination of the Hindu Rashtra ideology.

This is at basic level. As they go up in the hierarchy of political structure and organisations floated by them, they try to put on sophisticated language to hide the Hate ideology. So a RSS chief will say that “we are all Hindus, will talk of Vasudhiava Kutumbkam” due to which many intellectuals and thinkers feel it is worth having a dialogue with this organisation. But their hidden agenda leads to a stage where Yogi Adityanath will talk of Sanatan Hindu Rashtra.

Can the deep-set Hate be combated in any rational way? The emotive issues are further worsening the situation and starting from Ram Temple, to beef to various types of jihad and lately love jihad becomes the divisive and hate spreading slogan on which the sectarian nationalist ideology thrives. There is a need to promote fraternity and the police/state officials in particular need to be trained in the Indian culture and history, which is plural and inclusive.

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Vol 55, No. 38, Mar 19 - 25, 2023