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Save Shiva And Save The Nation

I saw it on the roads of Haryana and in Delhi - the tricolour and the saffron flags march together.

“We have secret information that during the Kanwar yatra you might create trouble…with this red card we are informing you that if you create any trouble during the Kanwar yatra, action will be taken against you. You will be held accountable.”

This is what the “red cards”, given to at least 250 residents — Muslims and Hindus — of Khelum village in Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh by police over the last week, say. Apart from the police’s “red cards” meant to deliver a “psychological message”, the district administration has identified 441 locals who “may cause trouble” and have had them sign “symbolic” bonds of Rs 5 lakh if they “disturb the peace”.

Read this news with the finding of the Delhi police which investigated the vandalising and smashing of a car by the Kanwariyas in Delhi. The police say that the occupants of the car had slapped the Kanwariyas which provoked them into violence. It thus rationalised the violence and provided a justification for it.

If the Supreme Court, our Parliament in session and we the people of India do not sit up or do not feel outraged after these reports, then we will have to accept that we, as a nation, are dead.

Abhishek Angad of the Indian Express reports that the “red cards” by the police and the threat has “set off panic in the village and prompted 70 Muslim families to leave.”

Khelum had witnessed violence last year during the annual Kanwar Yatra. The violence, which erupted when the Kanwariyas passed through a Muslim locality in the village, left dozens from both communities and 15 security personnel injured.

The Indian Express report tells us that The Kanwar Yatra will go through the same route this year. The Hindus in the village, who are confident of a peaceful yatra, are not worried. But the red cards, the frequent searches at homes and the Rs 5 lakh bonds are an indication of trouble for most Muslims in Khelum.

Read him again, “On Tuesday, the road leading up to the village is deserted – shops are shut, houses locked from outside and few roam the streets. Muslims reside on both side of this road and it is through here that the Kanwarias are scheduled to pass before reaching a temple at Guleria village, some 8 km away. Khelum has a population of 5,000, and Muslims, primarily engaged in farming or as labourers, account for 70 per cent.”

On Tuesday in Khelum, a resident Sahid Hussain found at his house a “red card” signed by SHO Aliganj, Vishal Pratap Singh. “I was not even there the last time the incident occurred… In the last fifteen days, police have conducted multiple checks in many houses and issued red cards. A fear has developed…I left my house a week back with my family to another village…Occasionally, I come back to check on my house,” he said.

Hussain is not alone in wanting to leave Khelum. Locals say that at least 70 other Muslim families have left fearing another bout of violence during the Kanwar Yatra. Amar Singh, who lives close to the temple, has also been given a red card. “I got the red card from the police a few days ago, but I am not worried about it. The police are only doing their job,” he said.

The audacity of the police in indulging in this patently illegal act can be seen from the statement of the Bareilly SSP Muniraj G. He flatly tells the correspondent, “The red card is not legally valid. Most of the people from both the communities who were asked to sign a bond were issued red cards to let them know that they are under our surveillance.”

The apprehension and fear that the illegal and outrageous act of the police has produced in the Muslims just do not register with the officer. He does not think that his action has driven out Muslims from the village.

Abhishek found that the police have taken over the house of Hasmat Khan, who left last week, and turned it into the main surveillance control room. “On Tuesday, in one room, two policemen watched a monitor showing footage from CCTV cameras and also had a wireless set through which directions are issued.”

Khan said that police had asked if they could use his house as a “resting place”. “Police said that it was raining so they needed a place to stay. However, when I paid a visit, I saw a control room was being set up at my home. An antenna was also installed on the roof.”

Aliganj SHO Singh said, “We have put the route under-surveillance and installed CCTV cameras. We have a set up a control room at Khan’s house.”

The police claim that their action is not biased against the Muslims as all the 144 families, which could be the potential trouble-makers have been issued the red cards. How is it that the Hindus are not worried and the Muslims have preferred to leave the village rather than getting caught in a situation not of their making?

This incident should alarm us. The harassment, lumpenism and goondaism at the hand of the Kanwariyas in general experience has been secular. I am from Deoghar, a pilgrimage for the devotees of Shiva which hosts lakhs of his Bhakts in the month of Shrawan and am aware of the horror that even the Pandas have had to suffer at the hands of them. But for the last four years, this goondaism has been put to use for the “nationalist cause” of the RSS and the BJP.

After the BJP government took over at the centre, people noticed with surprise and slight amusement that Kanwariyas were carrying the triclour with them. Some of us wondered what the national flag was doing in a religious procession.

It should have caused concern and not amusement, for this is not spontaneous. It is definitely part of a well organised and thought out plan to use this month-long annual yatra, in which lakhs of youth participate, for the RSS brand of nationalist politics.

This year, there is a noticeable increase in the number of tricolours being carried by the Kanwariyas. Each small group of them can be seen being led by a man carrying the tricolour tied on a long pole. We saw the trucks, carrying food-stuffs and other things for the marching Kanwriyas, draped in the national flag.

I saw it on the roads of Haryana and in Delhi – the tricolour and the saffron flags march together.

We have seen the triclour being used on different occasions to justify the unnecessary intrusion into predominantly Muslim localities with anti-Pakistan slogans, and also with threatening slogans like, “Bharat mein rahna hai to vande matram kahna hoga” and “Dadhi topi wala bolega jai shriram.”

Under the cover of the Tricolour, provocative and violent nationalist slogans targeting Muslims have become a regular feature of the Ram Navami and Durga Puja processions.

An administrative officer noticed the wickedness of the act and called it out. He asked openly, “A strange trend has started of carrying out processions through Muslim localities and raising anti-Pakistan slogans. Why? Are these people from Pakistan? The same incident happened in Khelum village in Bareilly. Stones were pelted, and complaints were lodged.”

Note the mention of Khelum village in his post. It is clear that the disturbance in Khelum was being created using the Kanwar Yatra as a cover.

The news from Khelum should send alarm bells ringing. Hindus need to worry as their religion is being taken over by a bully nationalism. The institutions of the constitutionally secular state need to note that the arms of the state are now openly and brazenly acting as collaborators of a majoritarian political project.

The project is to keep Muslims in a perpetual state of suspense and fear, and drive them into a permanent state of seize and subjugation. If we do not see it now and act to rein in this fake religio-cultural nationalist bully, we will not be allowed to even repent later.

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