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Archives for : puen techie murder

Communal Attacks on Muslims of Pune : Fact Finding Committee Report



June, 20, 2014


This fact finding exercise was coordinated by National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations  (NCHRO).  Human right activists from different regions of India participated in this inquiry. They are,


1. Reny Ayline, National Secretary,  NCHRO, New Delhi,
2. Prof A.Marx, Peoples Union for Human Rights, Chennai,
3. Prof. G.K. Ramasamy, Peoples Democratic Forum, Bangalore,
4. Adv. Y.K. Shabana, Committee for Protection of Democeatic Rights,  Mumbai,
5. Adv. Babita Kesharwani, Mumbai,
6. Sudhir Dhawale, Editor ‘Vidrohi’ , Mumbai,
7. Rupali Jadhav, Kabir Kala Manch,Pune.


This team is in Pune for the past three days visiting different places in and around Pune where Muslims and their properties were attacked from May 31 onwards.The team visited Hadapsar where the muslim techie Sheik Mohsin was beaten to death and places such as Handewadi, Syed Nagar, Kale Padel, Loni, Uruli Devaichi, Landewadi, Bosery where people were beaten, bakeries, shops, hotels,houses and places of worship that belonged to Muslims were ransacked. We met the victims and their near and dear, owners of the lost properties, injured persons and religious leaders and recorded their statements.


We  also met the district collector of Pune Mr.Saurav Rai, deputy collector Mr.Suresh D Jadhav, Hadapsar police senior inspector Mr. B.K.Bandharkar and crime branch senior inspector Mr. Gopinath Patil who is investigating the June 2 incidents. We discussed with the officers in detail about the attacks, action taken and the general situation today in this area.


The Incidents


It all started in the last week of May when some fringe Hindu outfits, mainly one Hindu Rahtra Sena ( HRS) led by a maverick by name Dhananjay Desai protested with road rokos and demonstrations against a derogatory face book posting mollifying  the iconic king Shivaji and the Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray with morphed photographs. The agitation turned violent from May 31.  The protestors, who were initially only targeting government properties such as buses, later started pelting stones, looting and burning shops and  religious places of the minority community in and  around  Pune city. The collector said that more than 250 government buses were damaged.


On may 31in Handewadi two madarasas and two masjids were attacked. When the attack took place there were children  working on their lessons  inside the buildings. A masjid under construction by one Salim Memon was badly damaged. The Majid e Chudeja was partly burnt  and the Imam was left with a head injury. The manager of the Memon masjid Mr. Mohammed Aziz Sheik said that the attackers, all youths came in two wheelers shouting “Jai Bhavani” and “Jai Maharashtra”  with deadly weapons in their hands such as cricket bats, iron bars and talwars. Between 9 and 10 pm three such attacks took place at half an hour intervals. In the last phase about 50 to 70 armed goons participated in the attack. Though the manager called  the police  and cried for help, they came only at about 12 pm after the attackers left safely.


More or less at the same time about 35 armed  activists of the Hindutva outfit came by motor cycles shouting in the same manner attacked  Rose bakery, Bangalore bakery and Maharashtra bakery  in Loni. All of these belongs to Muslims. Glass doors, fridges and glass show cases were damaged. The owner of Rose bakery one Shaban Sulaiman Shaik said that Rs 35,000 cash was also looted from his shop. A near by mosque known as Alamgir  masjid was also stoned.


At the same time in Landewadi Bosseri the Madina masjid and a nearby Muslim kabarsthan (graveyard) were attacked. The masjid was not only attacked but also burnt using petrol which they brought with them. About 35 children in the age group of 12 to 17 were in the upstairs of the masjid at that time. They actually jumped out  to the next building and escaped. The imam  of the masjid one Mohammed Alam had broken his leg when he tried to jump out. He is still under treatment. Four two heelers which stood before the masjid were also burnt. Even the dead were not shown mercy. The graves  and a small  worshiping  shed in the grave yard were ransacked. In Noor Mohalla at Bosery about 40 houses were stoned from outside. Glass windows and  doors were damaged. About 25 bykes were attacked and broken to pieces.


All these attacks were in the same pattern. In all the instances the police came only after the attack was over. When the Landewadi masjid was burnt the fire service came to the place only after two hours when everything is burnt already.  The fire station is situated just below the masjid.


Even after such series attacks were made against Muslims of the area neither the district administration nor the police took serious note of it. The deputy collector said that they promulgated some prohibitary order. But they had not cared to deploy more special forces in places were Muslims are living in large numbers.


This led to massive attacks on June 2.  In Kale Padel, Syed Nagar , Hadapsar main market  a number of bakeries, shops and hotels were ransacked and burnt. Not only the showrooms, but also the baking machines, fridges, tempos, four wheelers and bicycles which were used to carry the products were attacked, broken to pieces and burnt.  Patel bakery, Welcome bakery, Paradise bakery, Hotel Sahara are some of the bakeries and  shops that our team visited. The houses near by Hotel Sahara  inhabited by Dalit Buddhists were also attacked. One Neela Badukombe and anotherMaruthi Shinde Baba, all dalits said that they are living there for nearly 50 years and this is the first time they were attacked.


In Kasbapet a clash occurred between the Hindu extremists who came to attack a masjid and muslim youths  who tried to prevent them. Four Hindu extremists were  injured , two of them with severe injuries. In this connection six Muslim youths are arrested.


In the Hadapsar main market area the Nalband masjid was stoned. One fruit shop owned by Abdul Kabeer and a banana godown owned by Abdul Rafi Bagwan  were burnt out. In Uruli Devaichi the Jama majid was attacked. A fridge and a water tank and some other things weres broken. No case was registered yet.All these attacks took place between 9 and 11 pm. Slogan shouting armed goons who came in two wheelers did all these things.


It was at this time the worst thing happened.  At about 9 pm Mohsin Shaik (28), a pious young muslim techie from Solapur working as a manager in a  textile firm in the nearby area left the Shine Anjuman masjid in Unnati nagar after saying his night prayer. His friend Riyaz Ahmed Mubarak Shendru was on the pillion. When they crossed few hundred meters from the mosque a gang of 30 to 40 armed goons came  in the bikes shouting slogans. Seeing them Mohsin stopped his bike and moved aside. The armed gang seeing these young man sporting a bird and wearing a skull cap  began to attack  with hockey sticks, wooden stumps, iron bars and bats. Mohsin’s friend managed to escape with injuries. But Mohsin, the only bread winner of his middle class family succumbed to death after he was brought to a hospital.


At the end of the street two other muslim youths Izaz Yusuf Bagwan and  Ameer Shaik were  witnessing the attack on Mohsin with fear and awe in their eyes. The gang then targeted these men who ran away and escaped with injuries  and fractures  on their bodies. Out of fear Izaz immediately ran to his native village. Our team met Ameer Shaik who gave a graphical picture of what happened on the other day. Ameer’s hand is broken. He is married and blessed with two children. He is a scrap merchant. But after this incident nobody is ready to trade with him. His future is bleak.


A compensation amount of Rs 5,00,000 is given to Mohsin’s family by the state govt. The collector told us that a central govt relief of Rs 3 lakhs and another 5 lakh  rupees from the state riot relief fund will be paid in  due course. But no compensation is paid till today to the injured persons  and  to those who lost their properties in the attack. The sub collector said that only if a proposal for compensation is sent from the commissioner of police it will be considered.  But no such effort is made in this direction by the police department. Regarding the injured, the sub collector told that any amount of compensation will be paid only to those who were in the hospital for more than a week. But out of the seven people injured only one was in the hospital for more than a week. Others, out of fear left the hospital within a few days.


There are about 20 FIR s are filed in Hadapsar, Boseri, Munuva, Loni and Vagoli police stations. The investigating officer said that 23 persons were arrested for June 2 incidents. In total about  200 people were arrested .When we asked him whether all those arrested are members of HRS, he replied that it could not be said  because that fringe outfit never keeps any documents regarding its membership. When we asked  whether the govt has any proposal to ban HRS the collector replied that only if a proposal comes from the commissioner of police the govt would consider it.


The maverick leader of HRS Dhananjay Desai is now behind the bars. He is now investigated from the conspiracy angle in the riots and the attack on Mohsin.


The HRS first came into focus when it carried an attack on the office of a Marathi television channel in 2007 protesting their coverage of an incident involving a Hindu minor girl who had eloped with a Muslim boy. Then they protested against the arrest of army officials who were involved in Malegaon blasts and other such terrorist activities.

Desai has 22 cases registered against him in Mumbai and Pune. While three of the cases are related to dacoity and possession of arms, nearly all the rest pertain to hate speeches made by him.

It is said that the HRS chief Dhananjay Desai has a following of nearly 4,000 youths across Pune district. They are well organised  and ideologically motivated. Most of these youths are from poor families and are unemployed. To tend to his supporters, many of whom are from economically weaker backgrounds, Desai brokers settlements in disputes mainly related to land and other properties.

The HRS is very active in Hadapsar and  Landewadi area. Six months back they conducted public meetings in Landewadi in which hate speeches were freely spoken against muslims.


Our team found that in total 40 houses and 20 masjids were attacked.  Out of these 20  five masjids were  burnt.  In total 35 two wheelers and five tempos were destroyed.  29 bicycles were burnt. 10 thelas were also broken to pieces.  Seven people are injured and  one person killed. We estimate that the total losses suffered by Muslims  amount to 4.5 crores.




1.Maharashtra  is in a sense the headquarters of  the Hindutva  exiremist thoughts from the days of Savarkar. In the recent times  the Malegoan and Nandid  bomb blasts, the involvement  of the army people in Hindutva terrorism  and the mystery surrounding the killing of the honest police officer Karkare who investigated the Hindutva terrorist activities  in Maharashtra are some of the facts we have to bear in mind. We understand that some peace loving people  and organisations have attracted the attention of the Maharashtra govt regarding the underground activities of the terrorist organisations based on Hindutva logic. But the Maharashtra govt had not taken  such concerns and complaints seriously. In fact we understand that both the revenue and police officials are more sympathetic towards rightwing Hindutva forces and their ideologies. But we feel that if such attitude continues more such attacks on  minority communities will take place in the near future.


2. Historically Pune was the epicentre of the marata rule.  12 % of the population  are Muslims. For the past 15 years right wing forces are very active in this area. Hate crime and religious fanaticism  are on the rise; On 5 January 2004 a group calling itself the Sambhaji Brigade attacked the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) in Pune . The attack was the preliminary culmination in a series of increasingly disturbing and destructive events that were triggered by the publication of James W. Laine’s Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India. Since the author had thanked the library as well as some of the scholars working there the right wing extremists took such an extreme step. On January 13, 2010, RTI activist Satish Shetty was assassinated in Talegaon, about 40 km away from Pune. In the same year, out of nine social activists killed all over India, five were murdered in the areas neighbouring Pune. On July 8, 2013 one Prakash Gondhale, a social activist and a strong opponent of Hindutva  hate politics was murdered. HRS members were arrested for his murder. In 2013 August 20, the well known atheist Dr Narendra Dabolkar was shot dead by some men on motor bikes  . Nobody was arrested till today.  When everybody is pointing the  Hindutva outfits for the ghastly murder,  the Mharashtra govt has given clean chit to the Hindutva movements in the court. Then who are the culprits? The govt has no answer for it.


3.Though Hindutva terrorist organisations are very active in Maharashtra the state govt has not taken enough attention of it. Most of the govt officials and police personnel and the vernacular media are sympathetic towards them. Though the officials as well as the home minister expressed that there is a proposal to ban HRS immediately after Mohsin’s murder, now they are retracting from it. We are also of the opinion that banning organisations are not the solution. Instead the govt should be very firm against hate speeches against certain section of the people. Having an organisation in the name of “Hindu National Army” (English translation of HRS) is against the fundamental tenets of our constitution.


4.The attacks against muslims of Pune by HRS and other such Hindutva minded people are well planned. Though Mohsin was killed randomly for sporting a beard and wearing a skull cap, there is a well planned conspiracy behind his killing and the attacks on muslims. Both on May 31 and June 2 at the same time, that is, between 9 and 11 pm  so many places were attacked which are separated by large distances. The same group could not have done all these things. Clearly some high command had assigned duties to different groups to target different places. So this is a well planned attack . There is a conspiracy behind it.


5. Though Mohsin’s murder was  the worst part of the violence, the state govt as well as the media focuses only on this. But behind this so many planned attacks against the muslim places of worship and on their economic activities. This is a very serious matter of concern.


6. Muslim public, religious leaders and political  representatives expressed their concern about the time and background in which these attacks happened. A change of overnment has taken place. An extreme right wing leader who boasts himself as a “Hindu Natioanalist” have took the reign of the country. In such a background the attacks have happened. Nobody in the central govt has condemned it. The BJP Member of Parliament from Pune, Anil Shirole, spoke of how “some amount of repercussions” after the posts on social media was “natural”. Instead of distancing the party and the government from such attacks, Mr. Shirole seems to have done just the opposite.The Jamat e Islami leader Prof Asar Ali Warsi was very much concerned about such statements. We are much worried about such a fear developing among the largest minority in India.


7.Spreading of rumours and false propaganda played an important role in the escalation of violence.  We should not forget  that such  circulation of some fake vedio clippings triggered violence against Muslims in Mussafarnagar. Recently, the cyber cell of the Mumbai police identified 650 such hate pages/websites.


8. We want to mention here that not all Hindus are cultivating hate against the minorities. But the Hindutva outfits are spreading hate among the Hindus  to polarise the majority against a particular minority. The Hindus of Bhima Kortgaon  village actually resisted the attempt of  HRS when they tried to attack a mosque there. This culture of  communal harmony  should be nurtured and developed.  Writers, thinkers  and politicians with secular  views should work in this direction.




1. A central special investigation team (SIT)  should be formed to investigate the atrocities on muslims of Pune in June 2014. Reputed officers should be included in the team.


2.A fast tract court should be formed  and a special public prosecutor should be appointed in consultation with the victims to try the cases .


3. At least  Rs 25 lakhs should be paid as compensation  to the family of Mohsin.


4. A committee should be formed under the district collector which should study the actual damages  incurred by the minorities  and they should be compensated accordingly.


5. We are worried about  the fact that the govt officials are oriented against the minority communities. Sensitisation programmes for the police as well as revenue officials are to be conducted on issues related to minorities. In places where muslims are largely populated   muslim officers  and police personal  should be sufficiently deployed.


6. The communal violence bill  should be made as an act as early as possible.


7. The police and other officials who didn’t take action against the culprits should be  found out and necessary action should be taken against them. Action should be taken against the Vandewadi fire service personnel for wilful negligence of duty.


8.The cyber cell should expedite investigation  and arrest those responsible for the mischievous  posts in the social media.










                 National Confederation of Human Rights Oganizations


N – 44, Hilal Homes, II stage, Ground Floor, Abul Fazal Enclave, Jamia Nagar,


New Delhi- 110025


Contact No: 0963 344 3798, [email protected]


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Modi Sarkar – Hate Crimes and Communal Polarization

Modi chalisa


 Guest Post – Ram Puniyani


The Modi Sarkar has been installed in power from last three weeks or so (May 16, 2014). While there is lots of hope from this government by sections of society, there are other types of fears which have started getting actualized and the consequences of that are being felt with great amount of horror. After the morphed images of Bal Thackeray and Shivaji were uploaded on social sites a well planned attack on Muslim minorities was orchestrated in Pune. In this attack the rampaging mobs not only paralyzed the city, they also attacked mosques and torched at least 200 public and private vehicles. The culmination of this was the public lynching of an IT professional, Mohsin Shiekh, an IT manager from Sholapur, a resident of Pune. He was brutally killed by a mob of Hindu Rashtra Sena, led by Dhanajay Desai. This is ‘Hate crime’ of worst order.


While this act has shaken the minority community and civic society groups have condemned it, the Prime Minister of the country has chosen to keep mum on the issue for a long time. Maharashtra Government is treating it as a law-and order problem, which defies all the logic. The overall observation is that a large section of the minority community is feeling terrorized ever since the Modi Sarkar has come to power. In Pune region, from last two weeks or so the minority homes and prayer halls are being vandalized and a section of supporters of the ideology of ruling party is feeling emboldened to no end. It is in this backdrop that murder of the Pune techie, who was wearing the Muslim identity has come as a warning signal for those who want to strive for communal harmony, national integration and the affirmation of the rights of religious minorities to live with equal honor and dignity. This incident has intensified ripples of fear leading to many from the minority community shaving off their beards.


In some ways this seems to be repeating the experiment in communal divide brought in by communal forces in UP, Muzzafarnagar. One recalls that a fracas of road accident was given the expression of ‘violation of the honor of our girls’, ‘love jihad’ and a video clip was uploaded by BJP MLA. This led to the horrific violence and the consequent polarization of communities along religious lines and a massive victory of BJP in UP. Amit Shah has been credited with the victory in UP and now in the wake of forthcoming Assembly elections in Maharashtra on one side the state BJP unit wants same Amit Shah to come here to Maharashtra and on the other the forces like Hindu Rashtra Sena have unleashed the anti minority programs like the heinous crime against the Muslim techie in Pune.


Communal violence and crimes have been the real polarizing factors in our society. Even in the preceding Lok Sabha elections, while apparently it seems that the agenda of development has given the victory to Mr. Modi, the fact is that communal polarization was working in the background. That’s how Modi brought forward the issue of article 370, Bangladeshi immigrants and the pink revolution. How much role this polarization played in the general elections is a matter of conjecture. All said and done communal polarization has been a major tool in the hands of communal parties. In Gujarat we saw the polarization brought around the Godhra train burning leading to Gujarat violence in which over 80% of those who got killed were the one’s from minority community. This violence brought in the polarization and the BJP government which was tottering till then became firmly planted in the seat of power.


It’s true that the issues which lead to communal violence-polarization keep changing over a period of time, while some of these continue to haunt in an ongoing fashion. In colonial India the major issues related to taking a procession with music band in front of a mosque, the issue of pork being thrown in mosque and beef in the temple were the other major ones. In Godhra, it was a accidental burning of a train propagated as terrorist attack, in Mumbai it was the victory celebration over Babri demolition. While some of these issues are kept in the forefront, the others issues’ related to temple destructions in the past, alleged cruelty of Muslim kings, the jazia, the myth of ‘spread of Islam’ by force provide the backdrop. The issues like conservatism of a threatened community, the Uniform civil code (polygamy), Article 370, misrepresentation of increasing Muslim population have been firmly planted in the ‘social common sense’. The attempt of historians and social activists to prove and propagate that all these are not correct, the truth lies somewhere else, remains on the margins of society, accepted by only few critical people and those giving a deeper thought to social issues. The well oiled machinery of RSS has ensured that the myths and distorted version of history and lop-sided version of Muslim community today; continue to be the part of main stream thinking. What Noam Chomsky said, ‘Manufacturing Consent’, was in the context of state, here the ‘social common sense’ manufactured by an organization of religious (Hindu)-nationalism is made the core part of ‘social common sense’, which in turn forms the basis of communal violence and thereby the polarization of communities along religious lines.

To add up to the existing armory of communal forces, the social media has come in handy as its reach has gone far and wide. In Muzzafarnagar, the video clipping from Pakistan where a mob wearing Muslim identity is mercilessly beating two thieves, was used. The communal forces presented it as if the Muslim mob is beating Hindu boys. Similarly Bajrang Dal activists in the past were caught while putting beef in temples in Hyderabad and hoisting Pakistan flag in Karnataka. With social media coming in handy now the outfits like Hindu Rashtra Sena are taking advantage of that and are trying to create the divisive atmosphere.

One notes painfully that with Modi coming to power the overall aggression of outfits like Hindu Rashtra Sena and authorities as such has worsened. In Kerala a college student and his associates were booked for putting Modi’s picture along with Hitler and Osama bin Laden. In Goa one person was interrogated for hours for a Facebook post which was critical of Modi.

Even before elections the ‘Book Police’ of RSS, in the form of Dinanath Batra succeeded in getting pulped the scholarly work of Wendy Doniger by Penguin. Now Orient Blackswan on its own has decided to withdraw the book by Megha Kumar ‘Communalism and Sexual Violence: Ahmadabad Since 1969’, and the History classic, ‘From Plassey to Partition: History of India’ by Sekhar Bandopadhyay. In all these violations of the freedom of expression, and the brutal Hate Crime by Hindu Rashtra Sena, the way the Prime Minister casually referred to this issue volumes about the shape of things to come.


While in Maharashtra the Assembly elections are forthcoming, such acts will definitely be feeding in to the electoral calculations of communal forces. It is mandatory that state Government has to rise above its opportunist inactivity to take the divisive forces head on. This needs to be supplemented by the proactive work to promote amity amongst religious communities. The peace march (15th June) taken out in Pune by social groups is a very positive step to bridge the communal divides. What is also needed is to weed out the misconceptions, myths and biases about minority community; what is needed is to respect the diversity and plural nature of our country. It is time that such repressive atmosphere created by the electoral victory of BJP is combated against by all social movements and elements committed to plural, democratic, Liberal India.

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Narendra Modi Regime – The Game Begins


By Anand Teltumbde

11 June, 2014

Now that people have voted for BJP beyond its own imagination and Narendra Modi got on to the business of ‘maximum governance’ many people thought that the old games associated with hindutva would no more be needed. Modi’s performance as far as his conduct and speeches are concerned has been simply superb. Even his worst detractors also were rendered confused by them. Indeed, many people who may not have voted for BJP also began feeling that perhaps Modi might really work. It was too early and too much to believe entirely his rhetorical declaration in an emotion laden speech in the central hall of parliament that his government would be dedicated to the poor and oppressed. Nonetheless many felt that perhaps, given his background, having come from an ordinary backward caste family and independent demeanours, he may really be more sensitive to the poor and oppressed. At the least, he would be sensitive to the Muslims, who have not voted for him and Dalits, who have massively voted for him, the communities who mainly constitute the subject of his dedication.

However, two prominent incidents happened during this week, among of course a spate of rapes and murders of dalits, tend to belie these expectations and create a contrary impression that perhaps the old games have begun.

Damn Dalit Demands

The horrid incident at Bhagana in Haryana in which four girls aged 13 to 18 were sedated, gang-raped, kidnapped by the culprits of the dominant Jat community, who abused them the entire night and threw them into the bushes near the Bhatinda railway station on 23 March was shocking enough to shame the country. However, what followed was far more revolting and shameful. The girls had to pass through humiliating two finger tests which have been officially banned for the rape victims during their medical examination. While the police had registered their complaints under pressure from dalit community, they took five weeks to apprehend the culprits. Whereas, the judicial process to get them released in the Hissar court had immediately begun, the Dalits of Bhagana, along with the families of those innocent girls had to go for sit-ins for justice. They were scared to go back to their village for the fear of reprisal by the Jats. Some 90 Dalit families from Bhagana, including those of the rape survivors, have been protesting at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar since April 16, with 120 others at Hisar’s Mini Secretariat. In the wake of this protest, many other horrid stories of rapes of minor girls came to the fore. As published on Rafoo, a Hindi blog ( A 17 year old Dalit girl from nearby Dabra village was gang raped by men of the Jat community in 2012 after which her father had committed suicide. Another 10 year old girl was raped by a middle-aged man. Yet another girl was raped by a Jat man who roamed scot-free, but the police arrested the girl and tortured her. All these girls are boldly fighting for justice and were part of the protests.

On 4 June, around 6 am, when most protesters were asleep, a large posse of policemen descended upon Jantar Mantar and pulled down their tents. They forcibly removed them and warned to vacate the place by 12 noon. At Hissar’s mini secretariat too they were evicted in similar manner. At both the places the police scattered and damaged their belongings. Small children including those nirbhayas (a media name for the rape survivors) were thrown on the street, where too police would not let them stay. The protesters accompanied by representatives of women’s, Dalits’ and Students’ organizations and led by mothers of the two of the rape survivors went to the Parliament Street Police Station at about 2 pm to present a memorandum to the officer in charge asking to be allowed to stay in Jantar Mantar since they had nowhere else to go. The group was stopped by policemen at the barricade outside the thana. As the women argued insisting on being allowed to go and meet the officer in charge, the policemen virtually mounted a sexual assault on them with an alibi of pushing them back. As per Kalyani Menon-Sen of Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, who was also among the protesters, the policemen grabbed their private parts and pushed their hands into their anal region. The mothers of the survivors and several women activists (including Adv Pyoli Swatija of Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Ms Sumedha Baudh of Rashtiya Dalit Mahila Andolan and Ms Rakhi – of NTUI) were attacked in this foul manner. One senior police officer allegedly shouted out, “are ye aise nahi manenge, lathi ghusao.” (They would not listen this way, insert lathi into them”. After this foul attack, several activists were taken into custody and held for more than an hour.

During the neoliberal era, the democratic spaces for ordinary people were systematically curtailed and brought down to small designated areas in the capital cities of every state and Jantar Mantar in Delhi for the entire nation. People could gather here and shout at their hearts’ content surrounded by police without anyone taking note of them. This is the de facto face of the Indian democracy. In this terrible case, the entire village community having to resort to sit-in protest for nearly two months itself is revolting enough. Instead of taking note of their genuine demand –rehabilitation at safe place as they could not return to Bhagana– the government getting them brutally evicted from this last traces of democracy, is surely not assuring to Dalits of the ‘good days’ Modi regime promised. Delhi police is directly under the central home ministry and is unlikely to act in such an odious manner unless briefed as such. The most surprising thing is that both Delhi and Haryana police, although under the governments of rival parties seem to have acted in unison. The message is clear enough that the protests, etc. will no more be allowed. After all, how could anyone see ‘good days’ if Jantar Mantars and Azad Maidans still existed?

The First Wicket Falls

While the above was the direct act of the government, there were many insidious acts committed by the outfits emboldened by the BJP’s victory. Just two days before the Bhagana eviction, on 2 June, a 24-year old Muslim youth was killed by the mob belonging to Hindu Rashtra Sena, a decade old Hindu rightist outfit, protesting against the morphed pictures of Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray and Maratha icon Chhatrapati Shivaji on Facebook. According to the Pune police, the Facebook page with these morphed pictures had existed for over a year and had 50,000 Likes. This well appreciated page, was suddenly sent out on a fast chat application to fuel mob fury by the militants of the Hindu Rashtra Sena. They assumed that it was created and run by a Muslim ‘Nihal Khan’ but according to the police now, it was actually done by a Hindu youth Nikhil Tikone, a resident of Kasha Peth. These facts apart, the page was taken off social networking sites on Friday, soon after sensing trouble and hence there was no need for escalating the issue to a full-fledged protest. However, the goons of Hindu Rashtra Sena and Shiv Sena went ahead with protest on Monday. In the evening in Hadaspar on the outskirts of Pune they stopped a bike, took off its rider, hit him on the head with hockey sticks and stones, left him for dying while they went on rampage in the area. The victim, an IT-professional, Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh, did not have anything to do with the pictures in question. But just because he was sporting a beard and green Pathani kurta the attackers killed him. Shaikh’s cousin, who was accompanying him, escaped while the two others, Ameen Shaikh, 30, and Ijaz Yusuf Bagwan, 25, sustained injuries. The police initially reeled off an usual alibi that the protesters had gathered there following rumours that Shivaji’s statue had been desecrated and a Hindu girl had been raped by Muslim boys as though that justified the killing of an innocent youth.

Immediately after killing Shaikh, an ominous sms was exchanged on mobiles, saying in Marathi ‘pahili wicket padli’(the first wicket has fallen). Going by the message and the weapons with which they attacked Shaikh, it was apparently a planned action. The Police however did nothing in taking preventive steps. It may however be said to its credit, particularly its Joint Commissioner of Police, Sanjay Kumar that he promptly acted in arresting 24 persons including Hindu Rashtra Sena chief Dhananjay Desai, and charged 17 of them with murder. Desai already had as many as 23 cases of rioting and extortion against him in different police stations in the city. The Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra would expectedly flex its secular muscle for its survival in the forthcoming assembly elections, but it does not portend well as far as the silence of the Modi sarkar goes.

The game seems to have already begun. It is to be seen what role Narendra Modi plays in it.

Dr Anand Teltumbde is a writer, political analyst and civil rights activist with CPDR, Mumbai.

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