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Maharashtra has never seen heat from the extremist group. It is a state that prides itself on the egalitarian ethos of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Shahu Maharaj and Dr BR Ambedkar. However, in the last three months, Maharashtra has turned into a place for the extremist groups who are constantly destroying the peace and equality.
These hate merchants are coloring the streets of the state with saffron with the tacit support of the government. Three rallies were recently organized by the Sakal Hindu Samaj in Navi Mumbai, Vasai and Solapur. The SHS has been pressing not only for their demand from the state government to pass legislation to deal with ‘Love Jihad’ and cow slaughter but also for an economic boycott of the Muslim community.
Civil Society groups and activists say that Maharashtra has always remained a progressive state but is fast losing its ethos because of these hate mongers.
Former Bombay High Court judge BG Kolse Patil says nothing about the fact that the BJP is behind these communal rallies, “The BJP 8 is based on communal hatred. So, how can Devendra Fadnavis, the state Home Minister, stop these rallies? Indeed, Fadnavis has been deliberately encouraging these rallies to ensure that the party’s base remains intact.”
The protests called ‘Jan Aakrosh’ by the SHS have children as young as four years old to the elderly. The march by the protestors raises a slogan which is anti-Muslim in nature. It is estimated that nearly 4,000 people belonging to various Hindu outfits have already participated in these rallies.
Although a large number of police personnel were present to prevent any untoward incident in the three rallies so far, hate speeches were made open to challenge. Some videos of the hate speeches, slogans raised and oaths taken have also made their way to the social media.
During the rally, slogans like ‘Garv se kaho hum Hindu hain‘ raise them too. In these videos, people can be seen walking with saffron flags, wearing saffron caps, asking the government to bring in Love-Jihad laws, anti-conversion laws and anti-land jihad (wakf) laws.
Jyoti Punwani, a former Journalist said, “It is very surprising that even though the Supreme Court has said ‘no hate speeches’, these people are spreading hatred in the state with impunity. It is more than surprising that the police which was supposed to monitor the extremists have taken any action against the hate speeches.
“So, it seems that the rallies of haters got backdoor support from the Shinde government. Only the Azad Maidan.”
The rally in Navi Mumbai in Raigad district featured Ganesh Naik, earlier of the NCP and now with the BJP and other members of various Hindu outfits like Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal.
According to a newspaper report, a resident of Gujarat identified as Kajal Shingla alias Kajal Hindustani was the main speaker at the rally. She works for the cause of ‘Hindu Human Rights’. He said, “In Navi Mumbai, the land of jihad has become so common that today 25 Bangladeshi Muslims live in one room.”
Kajal also made an unconstitutional call urging people to boycott Muslim vendors. He claimed that they (Muslims) have taken over “our produce and fruit markets. I want you to repeat after me: “We, the people of Maharashtra, will boycott them economically.”
He motivated the protesters and the audience by emphasizing not to rent or sell their spaces to them. He further added that if this happens in your neighborhood, form a connection with rules that state that anyone who does not worship an idol should not be rented or sold an apartment.
On dargahs he said, “There are eight illegal constructions of dargahs in Navi Mumbai. Only when the women of our households come out to question the authorities will Navi Mumbai be free from them. Are they seeking permission to build illegal dargahs? So why do we need permission to demolish their property?”
Mehmood Dariyabadi, general secretary, All India Ulema Council, says it is very strange that this government is allowing hate speeches in the open rallies. “This government led by Shinde looks weak and unable to control the extremists. Earlier also there was a BJP-Sena alliance government in Maharashtra but this was never seen. It looks like the BJP is polarizing people for the 2024 elections.”
From a video of another rally of hatemongers under the banner of Hindu Janakroash Morcha held in Vasai, a speaker can be heard saying that if the Maharashtra state government does not pass anti-conversion laws, then ‘they (Hindus) know how to take care of those (Muslims) who are a threat to our women’. She then takes an oath, repeated by her audience, in which she promises to protect their “Hindu nation” and make it “Liberation from Jihad”, and that they will continue to work towards the realization of their dream of “ Hindu Rashtra”.
A third such hate rally was held in Maharashtra’s Solapur, also under the aegis of Sakal Hindu Samaj. In this program of Hindu Garjana Morcha, similar demands were made for strict laws on love jihad, religious conversion, and cow slaughter.
T. Raja, a speaker at this event, had issued a message on social media thanking all the “devotees of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj” who came to this event. In the photos he posted, a large crowd can be seen attending this event. Another issue is that Shivaji was a secular king and most of his generals and guards were Muslims.
Punwani also added that the previous government of Uddhav Thackeray had kept such commune under strict control. “These hate rallies can lead to riots in the city. People who have seen the 1993 riots know the repercussions of these hate speeches against a particular community. The deputy CM should ensure that this generation does not witness such a riot otherwise the city will be destroyed. irreparable.”
Kolse Patil adds that those who hate want to run fear among the marginalized people of society and make sure that they have no voice to come forward. “Democracy has been on its last legs for the last 10 years. It is sad to see such division based on religion in the state.”