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India: Scary spike in communal violence before elections

Sunday 24 December 2017, by siawi3

Source: http://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/231217/scary-spike-in-communal-violence-before-elections.html

Scary spike in communal violence before elections

23.12.17
1 day ago

Experts say the ugly face of present day communal violence is different from the past as it is vicious, venomous and one-sided.

Jaipur: Mob lynchings and “love jihad” violence are the latest in series of hate crimes and reactionary and religious intolerance, multiplied by irresponsible social media, that are tarnishing Rajasthan’s image as a communally violent state. It now figures in the rogue list of eight states which account for 85% of communal incidents in the country.

Social scientists also accuse those in the state government machinery of tacitly supporting the aggressors, who in most cases happen to be Hindus.

Rajasthan, where not a single major incident of communal violence took place at the time of partition, has transitioned over the decades from a quiet and peaceful state to the one having several flashpoints of communal polarisation that began in the late 80s with Ram Temple movement that left behind a trail of hatred, distrust and fear and setting off a chain of communal incidents in last three decades.

Experts say the ugly face of present day communal violence is different from the past as it is vicious, venomous and one-sided.

“Earlier, the other side was also at fault sometimes but now there is only one aggressor and the other one is a victim,” said Kavita Shrivastava, state president of PUCL who has done several case studies of communal incidents in Rajasthan while referring to killing of dairy farmers Pehlu Khan and Ummar Khan allegedly by cow vigilantes in Alwar and most recently migrant labourer Afrazul Sheikh’s killing in a suspected case of “love Jihad” by Shambhulal Regar in Rajsamand district.

Social scientist and former professor in Rajasthan University, Dr. Rajiv Gupta said the trend of increasing violence against Muslims reflects decay of progressive intellectualism.

“We are becoming reactionary and religious intolerant. The social divide is widening. The sustained campaign of polarising on communal lines is paying off for the present dispensation,” he said.

A senior police officer who has served in sensitive areas at the time of communal frenzy in the 90s agreed. “Usually, two sides are involved in what we call communal clashes but what is being seen now is that attacks are happening only by one side on flimsy ground,” he said.

According to him, during Ram temple movement and post Babri mosque demolition people got influenced events at national events but now they are giving into false propaganda of love jihad while there is data to support this trend.

Dalit social activist Bhanwar Meghwanshi who was at one point of time active member of RSS warns about ignoring murder of Pehlu Khan and Afrazul as mere hate crimes. “It is planned terrorism by the majority community. It is part of a much larger conspiracy to instill fear among the minorities to make them submissive and nonchalant,” he explained.

He said what is worry is that unlike in the past when at least those in the government would condemn such incident, they now openly support the perpetrators of crime. He pointed to statements by state home minister Gulab Chand Kataria. When Pehlu Khan was killed, Mr Kataria said that both sides were at fault. In case of Afrazul’s brutal murder, he remarked that it showed the anguish and anger of the killer..

The home minister along with his cabinet colleague Kiran Maheshwari and Rajsamand MP Hariom Singh Rathore was member of a Whatsapp group that hailed the murder of Afrazul.

The Whatsapp group was created by Prem Mali who claims to be a Rajasthan BJP worker.

Targeting minorities

On Dec. 6, Afrazul, a labourer from West Bengal, was murdered and burnt alive by a dalit man, Shambhu Lal Regar, who accused Afrazul of ‘Love Jihad’ in Rajsamand
Dairy farmers, Pehlu Khan and Umar Khan, were killed on April 1 and Nov. 13 by cow vigilantes in Alwar