New Delhi: Four people, associated with making and uploading a hate song which went viral last week, were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police on July 26. The song, titled ‘Jo Na bole Jai Sri Ram, bhej do usko kabristan’, calls for sending those who do not chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ to their graves.
The police, which acted on several complaints, picked up Bhojpuri and Hindi singer Varun Bahar, writers Mukesh Pandey and Santosh Yadav, and Rajesh Kumar Verma, the owner of the YouTube channel Janta Musical and Pictures on which the video was uploaded.
The four have been arrested under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language) and 298 (deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person) of the Indian Penal Code.
“I’m a bhakt of Jai Shri Ram,” Bahar told the Huffington Post in a phone interview. “This is all about Hindutva. It is only about Hindutva.”
Bahar even released a statement on YouTube claiming that he sang the song out of love for Hinduism and that he saw nothing wrong in the sentiments expressed as the song does not mention a particular religion or section of the society.
“I have not taken the names of any religion here. Media is after my life and is not concerned about content on social media that is much more provocative and vulgar in nature,” he said, while calling upon the Hindu Yuva Vahini, Bajrang Dal and his “Hindu brothers” to help him.
But songwriter Santosh Kumar, who also makes an appearance alongside Bahar to defend their song, was not so contrite and blamed “anti-Ram elements” in the media for pushing for their arrest. He said the song was for the cause of Hindutva and for making India a ‘Ram Rajya’.
The music video includes images of a graveyard. ‘Kabristan’ is a reference to graveyards used by Christians and Muslims.
Verma said he deleted the video from his channel, which had 507,000 subscribers, on July 22. Apologising, he said that “our company will not launch such audio or video [in future]”.
जनता म्यूजिक का उद्देश्य किसी भी धर्म की धार्मिक भावनाओं को ठेस पहुंचाने का नहीं था लेकिन एक सिंगर द्वारा गाए गए गाने की वजह से जो अफवाह फैल गई है उसकी वजह से हमें खेद है
— Janta Musical and Pictures (@JantaMusic) July 23, 2019
This isn’t Bahar’s first brush with the law for the content of his music. His music has been slammed time and again for its misogynistic overtones. Nor is this the first time Bahar has encouraged violence – after the Pulwama attack, he released “44 ke badle 444 sur lana hain, (instead of 44 heads, get 444 heads)”.
On Wednesday, political analyst Tehseen Poonawalla took to Twitter and wrote:
I am requesting you to file a complaint under IPC 153(a) & 295(a) against the makers of this video. This video incites Mob Violence against the citizens of India. Failure to do so will be contempt of SC (Tehseen Poonawalla vs UoI ) @CPDelhi 1n pic.twitter.com/HO965zb6xy
— Tehseen Poonawalla (@tehseenp) July 24, 2019
In another tweet, he said he would play the song outside Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence in Lutyens’ Delhi if an FIR was not registered.
If a FIR against this hate video makers is not registered by you, I, Tehseen Poonawalla will protest by playing this video outside the residence of hon @PMOIndia shree @narendramodi ji.
Kindly take note .
Cc @HMOIndia @CPDelhi@DCPCentralDelhi @DCP_CCC_Delhi @DelhiPolice pic.twitter.com/g1oYvqqxn2
— Tehseen Poonawalla (@tehseenp) July 24, 2019
On July 25, CPI(M) politbureau member Brinda Karat wrote to home minister Amit Shah demanding action against YouTube for allowing circulation of videos that are designed to “incite communal hatred”.
“I am writing to you in connection with a number of videos…on YouTube channel and WhatsApp groups which are clearly designed to incite communal hatred, violence and acts of terror against one specific community by another community… Another video threatens those who do not say ‘Jai Shri Ram’ will be send to the graveyard,” she said in the letter to Shah.
“There is no doubt that by allowing circulation of such anti-national material on their channel, the owners/controlling authorisers of YouTube channel are also guilty. Since YouTube has a worldwide reach, such communal hate and highly provocative videos emanating from India seriously damage India’s image across the world and could have dangerous consequences,” she said and demanded registration of an FIR.
She also demanded that YouTube be forced to remove the video and stop the circulation of the offensive material.
Earlier this week, 49 filmmakers and activists wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing concern over lynchings in the country. In it, they said that the religious chant of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ has become a “provocative war cry today that leads to law and order problem, and many lynchings take place in its name”.
A little more than a month ago in Jharkhand itself, 24-year-old Muslim welder Tabrez Ansari died after being lynched by a mob which forced him to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman”.
Two days later, a 26-year-old madrasa teacher was allegedly pushed off a moving train for refusing to chant the same slogans in the heart of Kolkata.
On July 22, a Zomato delivery person and his friend were allegedly threatened and forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad city by unidentified persons, triggering tension in the area. The two friends were also Muslim.
On June 24, a 25-year-old Muslim taxi driver in Maharashtra’s Thane was allegedly beaten, abused and forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” by a mob which dragged him out of his car.