The targeted rioting, arson, and violence against the Hindu community by Muslim mobs (1) in Basirhat and Baduria located in the North 24 Paraganas district of West Bengal was not a one-off like some Muslim leaders and a few apologists are making it out to be. There is a pattern to the violence perpetrated by the Muslim community every time there is even a hint of a perceived insult to their religion. This is discussed in greater detail during the latter part of this article.
However, there is an attempt to make a false equivalence with the intention of brushing aside the riots of Basirhat and Baduria. The argument being made is that people belonging to the Hindu community are also prone to behave in similar fashion when their religion, religious icons, Gods, Goddesses, culture etc. are attacked.
It is my contention that this is a false equivalence and the Hindu community and its overarching dharma i.e. Sanatana Dharma which is based on a substratum of inclusiveness, acceptance, and tolerance is infinitely more accepting of criticism, feedback, and even abuse.
Therefore to make such equivalence in my opinion is not just wrong but also an attempt to cover up the inherent bigotry and violence in Islam and amongst Muslims.
In order to test the premise that the Hindu community in general is much more tolerant of criticism and even abuse I ran what can at best be called a very rudimentary search on Google to identify news reports that documented instances and/or incidents of insults, offensive remarks, derogatory comments and posts made against Hindus, Hindu gods and goddesses and the Hindu community in general.
I knowingly allowed for two limitations in this search:
- A timeframe of 60 minutes – Because the idea is not to document a laundry list of all instances but rather to look at a representative sample of instances and test the premise above. In that timeframe I could list no less than 22 incidents of gross and sometimes downright offensive posts, videos, speeches targeting Hindu Gods and Goddesses, acts of vandalism and physical abuse of idols, insulting speeches, and so on.
- The search parameter was limited to specific instances of insults and/or abuse directed at Hindus, their beliefs, and their Gods and Goddesses and not to all instances of mob violence secondary to an abuse against any religion.
The reason for introducing the second limitation into the search was to see if there was any difference in the response and outrage from Hindus and Hindu organizations to abuse against their religion versus the response and outrage from Muslims and Muslim organizations to abuse against theirs (as seen in Basirhat and Baduria).
The incidents of insults, offensive posts/comments, and physical abuse perpetrated against Hindus and Hindu organizations span the entire gamut of:
- Insulting and derogatory posts or comments in Social Media – A Facebook page called “Mangalore Muslims” (2) has 54,036 followers and 53,899 “Likes” This page is one of the most bigoted pages on Social Media and openly incites Muslims to commit violence and often celebrates the death of people perceived as belonging to the “Sangh Parivar” and even goes to the extent of issuing death threats against its perceived “enemies” from the Hindu community
- Posting morphed photos, pictures, and caricatures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses in extremely offensive and derogatory fashion – Most pictures are morphed to make the Hindu Gods and Goddesses resemble the devil or are depicted in sexually compromising positions
- Mocking Hindu Gods and Goddesses by presenting a one-sided and totally biased interpretation of events, stories from Hindu religious scriptures – for example Zakir Naik questioning the antecedents and lineage of Lord Ganesh and making fun of Lord Krishna without any semblance of sensitivity or fundamental understanding of the allegorical nature and rich symbolism of Hindu mythology
- Politicians and hate-preachers like Akbaruddin Owaissi (3) and Zakir Naik (4) to name just two indulging in blatant insult of Hindus, their customs, their Gods, and openly inciting fellow Muslims to indulge in the same.
- Physical abuse including breaking and kicking (with shoe-clad feet) of Hindu icons and idols (Ganesh, Shiva Linga) – A video that is in all probability from Kashmir where a crazed Muslim man kicks the Shiva Linga inside a temple
- Comparing Hindu Goddess Kali to ISIS terrorists. Teesta Setalvad actually tweeted this photo (5) on her timeline. Teesta attempted to equate the image of Goddess Kali with the severed head of a demon with the image of an ISIS terrorist with the beheaded head of an infidel.
- Christian evangelists calling Hindu Gods “Shaitans” in an open market (6) Christian evangelists who openly abuse Hindu gods and warn Hindus that they will have no salvation if they worship “false” Gods
- Portals and blogs that spew venom, hatred, and bigotry against Hindu icons, Gods, symbols, and customs (7,8)
The grid below summarizes the specific instances thrown up from this limited search alone showing how the abuse and mocking of the Hindu community, its Gods, Goddesses, customs, scriptures et al. is fair game for all and sundry.
(At the end of this article a link is provided to the original grid/spreadsheet).
Not one incident listed above led to the kind of targeted arson, looting, pillaging, and violence that was seen in Basirhat and Baduria. Of course each of these incidents did evoke outrage, protests, and complaints and in some cases were followed by arrests and cases filed against the perpetrators but not one incident can be compared to the scale and mindlessness that was seen in West Bengal.
Disdain for the rule of law:
At the beginning of this article I had mentioned that the violence that was witnessed in Basirhat and Baduria was not a one-off particularly when it comes to how the Muslim community typically reacts to a perceived, imagined, or real insult to Islam and the prophet. Two recent incidents typify the belligerence and anger that finds expression in mob violence, rage, arson, vandalism, and disdain for the rule of law. In Kerala the Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi was forced to publish a groveling apology for “criticizing” the Prophet and Islam (9) in its Calicut edition after mobs started gathering outside their offices threatening the staff and burning the Newspapers. Police had to resort to lathi charge and tear gas shells to disperse the mobs.
In May 2017 mobs of Muslims again in Kochi, Kerala under the umbrella of an organization called “Muslim Ekopana Samithi” dared to march to the High Court to protest against an order of the High Court nullifying a marriage between a Muslim man and a Hindu women. The court had seen merit in the argument put forward by the girl’s father that the marriage was performed under duress and that his daughter was forcibly converted to Islam (10, 11).
Only recently the country was witness to the Dhulagarh riots of 2016 in West Bengal which saw mobs of Muslims brazenly attacking, looting, and pillaging Hindus and their homes and the government under Mamata Banerjee turning a blind eye or delaying action against the perpetrators. (12)
The spate of killings in the coastal districts of Karnataka of people affiliated to Hindu organizations is another example of how appeasement by people in power emboldens jihadi tendencies. Is it just coincidence that in both West Bengal and Karnataka where the governments under Mamata and Siddaramaiah practice blatant vote-bank politics there has been a spike in jihadi and Islamic fundamentalism?
Those mentioned above are a few recent instances and there is the possibility that some people may turn around and say that it is a new reactionary phenomenon to “Hindu fundamentalism” In fact Swaminathan Aiyar makes this precise argument in a recent piece in the Times of India (13) arguing in a leap of wild imagination that “Hindu terror will reap Muslim terror” Nothing can be further from the truth.
We only have to go back in time and look at what History informs us to sift the truth from the falsehoods being fed in the name of secularism – The violent riots of 1989 (14) that followed the release of Salman Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” and its subsequent banning by the Government headed by Rajiv Gandhi is a test case of how the Muslim community in India has always punched way above its weight and has managed to have a disproportionate influence on India polity through the threat of violence. Going further back to the colonial days the targeted riots against the Hindus by the Razakars owing allegiance to Pakistan in the Hyderabad state under the Nawab, the Naokhali riots of 1946, the killings of Hindus during the Direct Action Day under the benign supervision of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Calcutta riots, Moradabad riots the list is endless…
We can parse this any which way we want and stick our heads in the sand but the truth is that at the heart of the matter is the rigidity inherent to the Islamic faith that can accept no criticism and brook no dissent. Anything that is perceived (imagined or real) as an insult to the faith and its prophet will see a backlash that is violent, and aimed at scaring the government and people of other faiths into submission.
As mentioned earlier the Muslim community may be a minority but they have consistently punched way above their weight class and have always had and continue to have an inordinately disproportionate influence through their ability to behave as a single monolithic entity that is used by politicians as a fully transferable vote bank and secondly through their propensity for violence at the slightest hint of an insult to their community. It is for the governments in power to act wisely to put an end to appeasement politics because the more we appease the worse it will get.
Link to Grid/Spreadsheet: