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'BJP has to keep people intoxicated with hate'

By SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF
Last updated on: April 29, 2022 10:52 IST
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'Just keep telling people that we have fixed the Muslims, and they will not be bothered about their empty stomachs or empty wallets.'

IMAGE: Wrecked remains of a vehicle at the site where violence broke out during the Shobha Yatra procession on Hanuman Jayanti at Jahangirpuri, New Delhi, April 16, 2022. Photograph: Ishant Kumar/ANI Photo
 

The last fortnight has seen worrying developments on the streets as communal clashes have erupted in different states on Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti.

As Hindu processions vended through Muslim localities in different states chanting provocative slogans, the situation descended into violence with Muslims retaliating by throwing stones.

If it was Khargone in Madhya Pradesh on one occasion, then it was Karauli in Rajasthan and Jahangirpuri in Delhi on another.

What has changed in the county for such frequent outbursts of violence? Why are Hindutva forces suddenly on overdrive?

Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com speaks to Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, author of The RSS: Icons of the Indian Right and Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times to know more.

The first of a two-part interview:

In the past too, right-wing mobs would enter Muslim areas and raise provocative slogans, resulting in riots. What difference do you see between earlier such incidents and the recent ones?

This is becoming much more frequent than it used to happen in the past.

There is a history, which is more than 100 years old, of Hindu processions crossing Muslim localities and mosques and making statements which were provocative in nature.

They used to play music in front of mosques 100 years ago too.

Very few people remember that Ganesh Utsav began in 1893 on the same day when the Muslim procession on Muharram was going on. At that time too there were clashes.

The RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) was founded in 1925 by Dr K B Hedgewar. Before that he was in jail for participation in the non-cooperation movement in 1921. He came out of jail in 1922 after Mahatma Gandhi withdrew the non-cooperation movement following the Chauri Chaura incident.

At that time there was also the Moplah rebellion (in Kerala) and you have all kinds of interpretation of what happened (whether it was a class struggle or communal violence).

The interpretation given by Hindu nationalist leaders like B S Moonje and Dr Hedgewar was that the Moplah rebellion was a bad thing as there were forced conversions and massive killings of Hindus.

They saw the Hindu community as victims and they decided to pay back.

How did they pay back?

The Ganesh festival was due in 1922-1923 and the British government decided that the Ganesh procession will not pass through Nagpur's Muslim colonies. This was due to the agreement reached between various parties after the 1914 riots in the city.

This was before the formation of the RSS.

They decided to go on satyagraha and said they will not immerse Ganesh idols.

They called it Dindi Satyagraha (in 1923) after which they succeeded and won the right to play music when taking out processions from the British government.

In 1925, the RSS was formed and then such incidents went on.

Another important man who provoked the Hindu community during that time was Swami Shraddhanand who started the shuddhi movement. He was murdered in 1926 and later, in 1927-1928, there were further communal riots.

What I am saying is that there is a history of music being played on Hindu festivals outside mosques and Muslim colonies for the last 100 years with an intention to provoke them.

The music in these processions is not the sublime devotional variety that one associates with bhajans and kirtans, but this is provocative, to cock a snook at the Muslims.

On Twitter 'Muslim colonies' or 'Muslim Ilaka' was trending. How do you explain such things in a secular nation like India?

Muslims are no longer given space to stay in mixed colonies.

Everywhere in India you find that ghettoisation of Muslims is going on.

You go to Gujarat, to Juhapura area of Ahmedabad. It is the largest urban ghetto in Asia.

There are several lakh Muslims who live there and the government never goes there. It is estimated that almost 50% of Ahmedabad's Muslims live in this ghetto alone.

There is no sewage and there is no presence of the government except when they go to arrest people.

The same case is that of Jamia Nagar in Delhi where only one Hindu family lives as far as my knowledge goes.

In my biography of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, I have written that one Muslim officer was not allowed to stay in a bank leased company flat. The owner of the flat said he will not let a Muslim live in his flat.

So Muslims start living in their own ghettos, which is going on from the 19th century.

When did the concept of Muslim ghettos start?

There is an interesting book which I have also reviewed.

It is written by Nazina Parveen, Contested Homelands: Politics of Space and Identity.

It looks at the evolution of physical concentration of Muslims increasing in certain colonies post the 1857 revolt against the British.

There are various reasons and it is a long history of Muslims being ghettoised, and that is going to increase.

There are Hindu colonies, Muslim colonies and mixed colonies, but the number of mixed colonies is sharply declining in India.

When I bought a property 20 years ago, my broker asked me my surname because he did not get my religion from my name Nilanjan.

I had to then tell him my surname was Mukhopadhyay and he didn't know what Mukhopadhyay was.

I had to tell him I am a Brahmin.

Later on, when I became better acquainted with that broker, I asked him why did he ask me that question while buying the flat.

He told me the builders in any locality refuse to sell the first flats to Muslims.

These are sold to Muslims only when a few flats remain. Builders say that if Muslims buy the flats in the beginning, then the majority remains unsold.

If the first flats are bought by Muslim community members, then the rest of the flats in the building will not be bought by Hindu buyers.

The builder will not be able to sell the rest of the flats in the building because Muslims do not have that kind of buying power and Hindus will not buy the remaining flats because they do not want Muslims as neighbours.

What does the Bharatiya Janata Party want to achieve as a ruling party by not stopping such provocative yatras passing through Muslim localities?

The BJP has not been able to solve major problems faced by the people.

They have not been able to deliver on the economy so it has to keep the people intoxicated with hate.

Just keep on telling people that we have fixed the Muslims, and they will not be bothered about their empty stomachs or empty wallets.

They will not be bothered about Aatmanirbhar Bharat or Achche Din or Rs 15 lakhs coming into their account. They shall remain what Amit Shah said -- jumla or pure rhetoric.

They are happy with free rations and hate for Muslims.

That is the dose of electoral winning continuity formula of the BJP.

Where will it all end?

I don&'t know.

History shows us where it will end and we saw it in Nazi Germany.

What happened in the 1930s in Germany is happening in India now.

There are many parallels that you can see.

You have laws like 'love jihad' and you had the same kind of law -- called the Nuremberg Laws -- in Nazi Germany where Jews were forbidden from marrying or having sexual relations with German women to keep the German race pure.

What gives a high to BJP supporters when poor Muslim homes are demolished? It is shocking when senior broadcast journalists make fun of poor people's homes getting demolished.

I don't read such tweets, but these kind of people were on the ruling side even in 1976 when Indira Gandhi demolished poor people's homes at Turkman Gate in Delhi. Such people always side with the system because they wish to barter their professional freedom for material benefits and access to information.

It is a sheer coincidence that the Turkman Gate demolitions using bulldozers were done in April 1976 and this time, in the same month, it is in Jahangirpuri.

At that time the demolition drive was done by Indira Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi and Jagmohan.

Bulldozers are back in India's capital.

At that time, it was in the middle of the Emergency imposed by a very authoritative regime and now again it is back without an Emergency being declared.

The historical parallel is very obvious.

Were only Muslims targeted in Turkman Gate too?

Primarily, they were Muslims.

That is how you see resettlement colonies like Jahangirpuri, Trilokpuri, Seemapuri and others were constructed. They are tiny pigeon holes -- all cramped in 25 square yards.

You expect them to settle there and you do not stop the encroachment when it is happening because your municipal authorities look the other way round because they give your partyv chanda (donation).

The BJP has collected chanda and got votes from all these people who got extension to their homes because the BJP has been ruling municipal corporations in Delhi.

If they had to demolish, they could have done so any time of the year, but why now, after Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti when there is already widespread communal tension?

 

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SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF / Rediff.com
 
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