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Communalism

'Swords, Provocative Slogans Now Norm’: MLA Urges Action Against Anti-Muslim Violence

In his memorandum to the National Minority Commission, Congress's Aftab Ahmed has said that the country is seeing minorities being intimidated in the garb of celebrations, referring to the Ram Navami violence.

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New Delhi: Haryana Congress leader Aftab Ahmed has appealed to the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to initiate action against rising anti-Muslim violence across the country, describing it as a “dangerous norm”.

Ahmed, who is serving as deputy floor leader of the Congress party in the state assembly, has said that he had recently called on NCM chairperson, Iqbal Singh Lalpura, to apprise him of the dangerous trend of misusing religious processions for targeting minorities.

“Brandishing swords, stopping outside mosques and raising provocative slogans constitute a dangerous norm,” he said, referring to the anti-Muslim violence unleashed by Hindutva activists in different parts of the country in the name of Ram Navami processions.

The Congress leader said that he had submitted a memorandum to Lalpura, drawing his attention to the “design of communal forces to intimidate the minorities in the garb of celebrations on the occasion of Ram Navami festival across India on April 10”.

Also read: Watch | Ram Navami Violence: Is This Modi’s New India?

“Religious processions, including those on Ram Navami, were also taken out in the past, but back then you would have never seen youth brandishing swords or stopping outside mosques for 15-20 minutes to deliberately raise provocative slogans. Those slogans, by their very nature, are to incite violence,” he said, alleging that often these actions by radical groups take place in the presence of police.

Elaborating on the issue, he said that “there was a determined agenda to take these actions”. In his discussion with Lalpura, he said, he had also referred to how the alleged incidents of violence against the minorities had taken place in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar on Ram Navami.

While stating that the members of the Muslim community have no objection to religious processions, he, however, said the manner in which they were being taken out, to provoke and incite violence, was problematic.

“It all started in Uttar Pradesh and now it has spread to other states as people in power there are now imitating the UP model,” he told the NCW chairperson, urging him to act against anti-social elements harassing members of minorities across the country.

The Congress leader also impressed upon Lalpura the manner in which the houses of the minority communities were being razed with bulldozers following the incidents of violence in Madhya Pradesh. Ahmed called the phenomenon “most alarming”.

In the memorandum, Ahmed had also raised the issue of the Madhya Pradesh government resorting to the demolition of houses and shops belonging to minorities in Khargone. He urged the Commission to intervene in the matter. The state government had for its part claimed that the houses which were demolished belonged to those who had pelted stones on the Ram Navami procession. It had also claimed that these constructions were illegal. This argument was, however, proven to be hollow as many residents had shown that their houses were constructed with government grants.

Ahmed argued that the demolitions were grossly against the law. “There is neither any notice nor due adherence to any procedure before these actions. So I told the Commission that it was important to stop these actions since an attempt is being made to instil a sense of fear in the minorities,” he said.

Continuing further, he said, “…fundamental rights of the citizens to live peacefully in their houses are also being threatened by the authorities. Bulldozers are being used to destroy their homes without verifying any facts or giving any notice.”

Ahmed told The Wire that as a lawyer he knows fully well that “they do not have any authority to demolish houses in this manner. Even if the things are illegal or even if they are encroachments, they have no right to demolish, without notice and without following the legal procedure”.

“What is happening is brazenly illegal and undemocratic also, and it is aimed at just targeting a particular community and to teach them a lesson,” he said. “They are not even looking at whether a person has done something or not, or if it is proven or not.”

Ahmed rued that many of the BJP-ruled states were carrying their own “short trial” without waiting to hear from the courts to resort to demolition. “It shows their bias (of these states) and that they have no fear for the law of the land,” he noted.