Violence Against Dalits,Muslims Reported From Across India
A day after the BJP won a landslide victory with over three hundred seats in the Lok Sabha elections, a slew of violent incidences has been reported from across the country. In a brutal incident in Madhya Pradesh’s Seoni on May 22, self-proclaimed cow vigilantes allegedly thrashed three Muslims, including a woman, over ‘suspicion’ that they were carrying beef. The victims alleged that they were forced to shout ‘Jai Shree Ram’ slogans. The incident came to light after a video went viral on May 23, the day of election results, where the accused are seen beating the youth with sticks. The accused held the victims to a tree one by one and thrashed them while the people looked on. Currently, the police has registered a case and arrested one person, and the search is on for the other accused.
In another instance reported in Gujarat, a mob of 200-300 upper caste people allegedly attacked the house of a dalit couple in Mahuvad village in Padra taluka of Vadodara, after the husband allegedly put up a Facebook post saying that the government does not permit the village temple to be used for dalit wedding ceremonies. While the police have filed an FIR against 11 persons and the mob of unidentified persons, the person who put up the social media post has also been booked for allegedly “promoting enmity between different groups”. The complaint was initially reported on Thursday, the day of counting. On the eventful day, a dalit woman Tarulataben Mackwana, 46, complained to the Vadu police station and got an FIR registered against 11 people and a mob of 200-300 people for attacking her house, pelting stones, thrashing her husband Pravin Mackwana and threatening them over his Facebook post.
In Basawanpur village of Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor region, the statue of BR Ambedkar was defaced. Residents alleged that the attack was motivated by opposition parties as the Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Girish Chand won from the parliamentary constituency. The villagers are fearing that this could possibly be indication of a larger conspiracy to attack the community.
Responding to the violence in Madhya Pradesh, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday wrote on Twitter, “Horrified to see cow vigilantes thrash an innocent muslim with such impunity in MP. Hope @OfficeOfKNath takes swift action against these goons,”
Another former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Omar Abdullah of the National Conference, said it was just the beginning and expressed fear that worse was in the store. “Ibtedaae ishq hai rota hai kya, Aage Aage dekhiye hota hai kya (this is just the beginning of the affair why are you crying, you will see what is coming as we move ahead),” Abdullah, quoting the 18th century Urdu poet Mir Taqi Mir’s couplet, wrote on his Twitter handle.
The BJP throughout its campaign was riding high on the tide of Hindu nationalism and relied on evoking sentiments of voters on the question of national security following the Balakot strike. The party had also made communal polarisation a key plank in its election campaign. The Guardianeditorial on the victory of Narendra Modi had noted that the mandate is “changing India for the worse.” Highlighting that “it stands for the flagrant social dominance of the upper castes of Hindu society, pro-corporate economic growth, cultural conservatism, intensified misogyny, and a firm grip on the instruments of state power. The landslide win for Mr Modi will see India’s soul lost to a dark politics – one that views almost all 195 million Indian Muslims as second-class citizens.” The instances reported post the victory of the BJP highlight the extent of the success of the BJP-led polarisation campaign.
While Muslims were referred as “termites” during the campaign trail, at other times they were also lynched with apparent impunity. The Guardian points out, “Despite their number, Muslims are political orphans, shunned by a political class fearful of losing support from the majority Hindu population. Before the election Muslims held just 24 seats in parliament, about 4% of the total, and the fewest the community has held since 1952.”
Apart from the targeting of the marginalised communities, various sections across the political spectrum have also been targeted in this post-poll results violence. The BJP has launched widespread, brutal attacks on Communist Party of India (Marxist) workers across the state of Tripura. The party has strongly condemned the attacks on their cadres terming it an attack on democracy.
A day after the Lok Sabha election results were declared, violence erupted in different parts of West Bengal as well, including the Barrackpore Lok Sabha seat, which saw a close contest between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Clashes were reported in different areas of Barrackpore, including Kankinara, where a number of shops were set on fire. A Trinamool party office was attacked at Naihati and several motorcycles were set on fire.
Political altercations were reported on the day of counting from Begusarai as well. The altercation began while supporters of BJP’s Giriraj Singh were celebrating his victory over Kanhaiya Kumar of Communist Party of India from the Begusarai Lok Sabha constituency. Reports suggest that Singh’s supporters lighted firecrackers outside Kanhaiya’s office in Patel Chowk area in Begusarai after trends showed the BJP candidate was leading. The situation escalated with both parties ending up pelting stones at each other.
The violence immediately after the poll results is nothing but a point to the increase in pace and intensity of attacks, oriented towards the realisation of the BJP’s vision of a muscular, assertive and fundamentally Hindu India.