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New Delhi: “Goli maro saalon ko, Hindu ke gadaaron ko (Shoot the traitors of Hinduism)” slogan was raised in Sector 12 of Gurugram on Friday, November 5, in a call for violence at a gathering of Hindutva supporters, meant to register protest against Muslims offering namaz in public places on Fridays.
The protest, which took the form of a Govardhan Puja, was organised by a Hindu organisation called Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti. It saw the participation of BJP leader Kapil Mishra, whose speech in the run-up to Delhi riots – issuing an ‘ultimatum’ to the police to clear anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protesters – is believed to have instigated anti-Muslim violence last year.
The puja/protest comes in the backdrop of Hindutva supporters, Friday after Friday, lodging protests against Muslims in Sector 12 of Gurugram offering namaz in a public place for the past two months. The place where Muslims have been congregating for namaz – on a piece of public land in Sector 12 – had the approval of the administration, but that did not dissuade protestors.
Although the police did arrest 26 Hindutva protesters for attempting to disrupt Friday namaz last week, the administration, in a complete turnaround, also withdrew permission Wednesday, November 3, for namaz to be offered at eight of the 37 designated sites in Gurugram.
Speaking at the puja/protest, Kapil Mishra referred to protests which took place at Shaheen Bagh last year against the CAA and National Register of Citizens, which had faced threats from Hindutva supporters.
“Nobody has the right to shut down roads. This is not a part of any religion, nor can it be…Will you block the streets in Gurgaon? Will you block streets in Delhi? Blocking streets is not a part of religion, it is to block the country, facilities and the economy,” he told the gathering.
Continuing further, he said that pedestrians, shop owners and school-goers had the right to the streets first. “If a local citizen – the resident of the area objects – then nobody has any constitutional rights to sit on the streets,” he added, effectively suggesting that Muslims are ‘outsiders’, while ‘locals’ who have more rights to object would be Hindu. It has been argued that the same ideology forms the basis of contentious legislation CAA and NRC, whose enactment saw widespread protests.
Mishra also said, “In this country, most land belongs to your Waqf Board. Make arrangements for your prayers there.” Since 2018, the Waqf Board has maintained that one of the issues at hand is that many of their sites in Gurugram have faced encroachment, causing difficulties in using the sites for namaz.
Mishra went on to say that everyone who uses roads realised that “they need to speak up for their rights”.
He added, “There were no mosques here before. Aren’t they there today? Doesn’t that mean that nobody has stopped them from being built? Nobody was against it, and nobody pushed you back, but if you push us back against the wall…then it’s necessary to give a push back.”
The event was conducted on a triumphal note that public namaz in Gurugram would be permanently stopped. During Mishra’s speech, protestors raised a slogan saying “Sector 12 sirf Jhaanki hai, pura Gurugram baaki hai”, a spin on a common slogan heard in the Hindutva ecosystem which goes by “Ayodhya sirf jhanki hai, Kashi Mathura baaki hai (Ayodhya is a mere teaser, Kasi and Mathura are still left).”
Presence of Yati Narsinghanand associates
While Mishra’s was among the more sedate speeches, the gathering also paid witness to more extreme statements.
One Amit Hindu led the slogan “Goli maaron salon ko, Hindu ke gadaaron ko (shoot the traitors of Hinduism)”. The previous iteration of this slogan, “Goli maron saalon ko, desh ke gadaron ko (shoot the traitors of the country)” had shot to notoriety ahead of the North-East Delhi communal violence, and has since become a regular feature of anti-Muslim events. <
According to his Facebook profile (which has now been locked), Amit Hindu appears to be close to Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, another Hindutva icon who rose to prominence with his hate speeches. On his Facebook profile, there are a number of photographs where is seen photographed with Narsinghanand.
According to a 2018 article documenting communal tension in the area, Amit Hindu was allegedly part of a group whose members were arrested for criminal intimidation and harming the religious sentiments of people offering namaz in the area. It’s unclear whether Amit himself was arrested as well. Those arrested were let out on bail shortly after. The group was led by Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, who had mobilised a call to arms ahead of the Delhi riots of 2020 as exposed by an investigation by The Wire.
On Friday, as Amit Hindu raised violent slogans, he was joined by Monu Manesar, a Bajrang Dal activist, and Dinesh Bharathi, president of the Bharat Mata Vahini. Both Manesar and Bharathi have been known to make hate speeches in the past as well.
In June, Manesar demanded during his speech at the Pataudi Mahapanchayat that Muslim men who resort to “love jihad” should be killed. He sought a list of “love jihadis” to be killed by his team while referring to the “big brother”, seemingly a reference to the BJP, who would “save” his team, presumably from the law.
माननीय अरुण जेटली जी के साथ सेल्फी pic.twitter.com/eCKoJ9YkE9
— Monu Manesar (@MonuManesar) July 6, 2017
On Friday, Manesar uploaded a video onto his Instagram page which shows a VHP leader saying, “It is not just in Gurugram, but across the nation, public namaz will be stopped. This is not namaz, it is jihad, it is terrorism.”
Bharathi has been central to the attempts made by Hindutva groups to stop namaz in public places in Gurugram since April this year. He wasarrested on his way to the Jantar Mantar rally in August which saw calls to boycott and murder Muslims.
As The Wire reported earlier, Bharathi was also a featured speaker at the Mewat Mahapanchayat in support of those who lynched Asif Khan and said that Asadduddin Owaisi would be greeted with shoes and stones if he ever visited Mewat.
In an interview to The Wire, Bharathi said that he had been arrested twice for his protests against the namaz, and complained that he had not been supported by the political right-wing, even though he had been a BJP worker for years.
The claim that he has been distanced by the political mainstream was belied by Mishra’s presence at the site and his endorsement of the cause.
Bharathi went on to say that if the administration does not take matters into hand, he and his fellow supporters of the cause are willing to “take up swords” and come out against Muslims offering namaz in the area, even if it means risking jail time.
Altaf Ahmed, a representative of the Muslim community in Gurugram, put out a statement saying that the community had decided against holding namaz in three areas (Sector 12, Sector 47 and Sector 18). However, namaz continued peacefully in other designated sites “although there was a lot of fear… Muslims exercised caution to not have any sort of confrontation with the vigilante groups”.
He further added, “In the above-mentioned three sites, Govardhan Puja was taking place. So, we voluntarily stepped back, as the same was advised by police forces on the ground.”