Expert Take: ‘Bihar Is No Longer An Island Of Communal Peace, It Is Being Overtaken By Hostility & Hatred Toward Muslims’ Says Natasha Badhwar
In Katihar district last month, a Muslim youth was abducted and thrashed by goons. And the police arrested him. Experts offer their views on NC24x7's ground report.
In the din of the Lok Sabha Election, many stories were lost. The tale of 25-year-old Saddam Hussain from Katihar in Bihar is one of them.
On May 10, Hussain was abducted and thrashed by goons over a land dispute. And when the police arrived, it was Hussain who was taken into custody, not the men who beat him mercilessly. Speaking to NewsCentral24x7, Hussain said, “The goons tied me up and thrashed me with hammers and iron rods. When I was thirsty, they forced me to drink urine. And when the police came, what did they do? I was taken to Manihari police station and locked up. I was writhing in pain and begging them to take me to a hospital.”
Saddam says that after he was assaulted, he was picked up by the police and detained at the Manihari police station. When his condition started deteriorating, he was taken to the sub-divisional hospital, which referred him to the Sadar Hospital, Katihar.
NewsCentral24x7 reached out to human rights activists and civil society members to comment upon incidents like these that have been normalised over the last five years.
Author and filmmaker Natasha Badhwar, who is part of the civil society organisation Karwan-e-Mohabbat, said, “From February 25 to February 28, 2019, the Karwan-e-Mohabbat journeyed to Bihar to the homes of the families of victims of mob lynching and targeted victimisation by the police. We found that like much of the country, Bihar is today riven with communal polarisation and violence.”
She added, “Unlike the 1990s, when Advani’s Rath Yatra was stopped on the border of the state, today Bihar is no longer an island of communal peace: this state, too, is being overtaken by hostility and hatred toward Muslims. The institutions that should have acted to limit the power of violent mobs have been deliberately enfeebled.”
Speaking to News Central 24×7, human rights and political activist and Secretary-General of the All India Christian Council, John Dayal asked, “What does the Sangh want?”
He said, “We have a Congress-mukt Bharat. Almost. The dissidents are vanquished, Muslims taught a lesson which the Christians and perhaps even the Sikhs have learnt, pronto. The police were long politicised; the military too will be soon it seems. There is minister rank for spying and special operations. In effect, the nation and the people are prostrate at the lotus feet of the Master.”
Badhwar further added, “We found that for the large Muslim population in Bihar today, an environment of fear, hate and stigma has been manufactured by the current coalition government. Throughout our journey, people contrasted the safety they experienced when the first alliance (of the Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal) ruled the state when communal organisations that tried to foster communal distrust were kept far more firmly in check. The sharp contrast between the two phases only underlines that communal hatred between Hindus and Muslims is not spontaneous, and thrives only in an environment of tacit or open encouragement by the ruling establishment.”
“The pasteurisation is complete. No more termites and sundry germs; the homogenisation follows. A Bhavya Rashtra as of Yore is in the kiln,” said Dayal.