Hate Crime and Hindu-Muslim Riots Over Facebook Post in Pune
Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh, a muslim man who lived in Pune, was allegedly beaten by Hindu Rashtra Sena (Hindu National Army) followers with iron rods and hockey sticks. They identified him as Muslim based on his beard and a skull cap. He ended up passing away while in medical care. Shaikh was an IT manager for Ujjwala Enterprises in Pune, and the sole earning individual in his middle class family. The family is demanding justice from the government.
The Facebook posts were apparently pictures of Shivaji, a 17th century warrior king, and Bal Thackeray, a popular Hindu nationalist leader. The police were able to get them taken down, but it was too late by then as the riots had already started. It is thought that the post was created to spur just this kind of violence, as rumors and such incendiary material is circulated by different groups to instigate attacks.
The post also led to vast protests which included protesters throwing stones at mosques and Muslim schools near Pune and a few other towns. Many people have been arrested in connection with these crimes as well.
The newly elected BJP MP for Pune Anil Shirole said, “What happened is unfortunate but after the Facebook post some repercussion was natural,” he went on to say, “We are making all efforts for restoring peace in Pune, people there want peace.” These types of victim blaming statements are what allow people to feel that their acts are justified. Murders are not justifiable by anything, and certainly not a Facebook post.
Home Minister R. R. Patil has promised strict action for the crime:
“Some people always want to create communal tension. Strict action will be taken against all those responsible.”
The Hindu Nationalist Group
The group is over a decade old and is based on the followings of Hindutva and the Shiv Sena party. Their leader, who has been involved in countless incidents before, is known to make strong comments about minority religions. Here is one of their slogans:
Although the investigators agree that it was not preplanned, the followers of the group apparently circulated a message that said, “Pahili wicket padli’ (The first wicket has fallen).
A total of 17 people have been arrested thus far (all of whom are required to remain in judicial custody) and the police are still searching for give more people.
Satish Mathur and the police department are trying to impose a ban on the group but the he recognizes it won’t be easy:
Controlling the HRS activities is our priority… But banning any such organization is easier said than done.
The election of the BJP (a Hindu party) had brought some fears of the possibilities of these Hindu Nationalist Groups feeling empowered, but most believe that Narendra Modi will be able to overcome this impression. It’s time for him to make a statement on these incidents. Hate crimes like this can’t be stopped by any one legal or political action, but making it clear that the government and police department won’t defend the criminals is an important step in changing the culture.[Image Attribute: DNAIndia]