THE CITIZEN BUREAU
Thu June 05, 2014
NEW DELHI: There is a clear pattern in the manner in which violence was instigated in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh and now in Pune in Maharashtra. Rumours of lies and basic half truths of attacks on each other by the two religious communities was then fed into with videos and photographs, taken by the ignorant as solid confirmation, intended to hurt the sentiments of the majority community.
In both cases the video and the morphed photographs were created and put up on the social media by non-Muslims.
In both Muzaffarnagar and Pune, the Muslims were on the receiving end of the violence with thousands being displaced in Uttar Pradesh villages, and a brutal hate crime sending ripples of fear through Maharashtra.
In Pune the violence that led to the bludgeoning to death of an innocent Muslim IT professional by the organised Hindu Rashtra Sena was instigated by morphed photographs of late Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray and Shivaji. The hurt sentiments were further fuelled by rumours of the minorities heaping further insults with the result that mobs paralysed the city, attacking mosques and torching at least 200 public and private vehicles. The murder of Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh when he was returning home in Bankar Colony, Hadapsar was a fall out of this violence, with the young boy being beaten to death by a mob.
The morphed photographs first appeared on a Facebook Page that had existed for a year. The FB page, according to the police, had been in existence for a year and had 50,000 Likes. It was a relatively decent page earlier, but was used now for these morphed photographs which were then sent out on a fast chatapplication to fuel mob fury by the militants of the Hindu Rashtra Sena responsible for the violence, and the hate crime that took the life of the young techie.
It was assumed that the Facebook Page was created and run by a Muslim ‘Nihal Khan’ but according to the police now, it was not so. And that one Nikhil Tikone had been responsible for this. He has been found to be a resident of Kasha Peth.
In Muzaffarnagar, a gruesome video of persons being beaten by a clearly Muslim mob was circulated on the social media with the message that this was a recording of Muslims in western UP beating up the Hindus. The violence spread into the rural areas within hours, leading to many deaths, injuries and huge displacement. It was later found that the video was a two year old recording of a crime in Pakistan, and was completely out of the Indian context. The person responsible for putting this up was a BJP legislator Sangeet Som who evaded arrest for days and was later keen to contest the elections. He was not given a ticket by the BJP and his supporters burnt an effigy of BJP president Rajnath Singh. The video although removed by the police from the social media, was circulated through the western belt of UP in the form of CDs keeping the tension burning for days on end.
Rumours were responsible for the violence in both Muzaffarnagar and Pune, with crazy and unsubstantiated allegations fuelling the communal fires. In both states the Police did not act in time, and there was no effort to counter the rumours, and douse the flames before these spread. There were the mahapanchayats in Muzaffarnagar where the hate speeches incited mobs to violence but were ignored by the police. In Pune the mobs started fanning out over days, but again the administration remained inactive until the hate crime brought national and international media spotlights to Pune.
In Pune the mobs attacked vehicles and mosques. In Muzaffarnagar they gutted the tenements where the minorities lived. In Pune the Hindu Rashtra Sena that came into existence about ten years ago fanned the flames, in Muzaffarnagar the BJP leaders joined the panchayats in fanning the violence. In the last the Samajwadi party that was in government remained a mute spectator, unable to or unwilling to control the violence in the crucial initial stages.
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