On the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday, a most brutal attack was witnessed against Ma Durga devotees who were taking part in a procession headed for immersion of the Goddess’ idol. The horrifying scenes witnessed in Bihar’s Munger have shaken the nation, even as an 18-year old boy identified as Anurag Kumar Poddar had his brains blown out owing to the police shooting him in the head. Several devotees were injured due to the brutal lathi charge by police, while some have even suffered bullet injuries. 20 policemen are also said to have been injured due to the clashes which broke out between the devotees and police.
The brazen use of brute force by the police at Munger has brought the spotlight back to the question of the value of a Hindu’s life in India. How the police had the temerity to lathi-charge a religious procession of Hindus by fragrantly flouting all laid norms is incomprehensible for many. That, added with the fact that the police chose to shoot an 18-year old boy straight in the head, blowing his brains out, has also revealed a rather nasty reality about law enforcing agencies in India and their unusual cockiness, when faced with Hindus who appear to even minutely be breaking the law.
How the Hindu devotees of Munger were flouting any law is not yet clear. The police claim that the ‘mob’ (of devotees) had resorted to stone-pelting and even firing, injuring multiple police personnel. On the other hand, devotees and eyewitnesses claim that the police thrashed four boys randomly who were carrying the idols of Goddess Durga on their shoulders. The images which have emerged on social media leave little doubt for anyone to doubt the theory of police having indulged in tremendous human rights violations. Eyewitnesses have also claimed that the police opened fire at the procession and that tear gas shells were also used.
Aisa kya provocation tha ki ye karna pada? pic.twitter.com/YGE1tzzYma
— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) October 27, 2020
“The mob pelted stones and opened fire on police which led to the death of one person and injured 27 people including 20 policemen,” Munger SP Lipi Singh was quoted as saying. The cops have reportedly detained 100 people for questioning in connection with the incident. Meanwhile, social media is rife with outrage against SP Lipi Singh, and netizens are not shying away from comparing her to General Dyer who ordered the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. At the time of filing this report, #LipiSinghDyer was the top trend on Twitter in India.
The brutal assault on Hindus in Munger has brought to light a disturbing trend of authorities behaving in a shamelessly contemptuous manner when it comes to dealing with the question of Hindu lives. While, in complete contestation of rules and norms, the police at Munger took to firing upon Hindus indiscriminately, the question which arises is this: would the police have been so uniquely courageous, for example, if they were faced with a procession of Muslims observing Muharram? We think not.
Such brute force being used against ‘protected communities’ of India would invite not just international outrage and condemnation, but would also result in a complete overhaul in the police force of the state concerned. Even as a “samudaayvishesh” resorted to rioting across the country during the manufactured, ill-informed and fabricated anti-CAA agitation, the police force in states like Bihar and Delhi did not dare fire a shot at the rioters who were causing tremendous damage to public property. Yet, when Hindus are seen taking out a religious procession perhaps in a minutely uncomfortable manner when looked at from the view of law and order, the police gather the strange audacity to fire indiscriminately upon them.
On December 21, 2019, when a Muslim mob took to vandalising and desecrating a Hanuman temple at Patna as a part of their anti-CAA ‘protests’, no such disproportionately prompt action was witnessed on the part of the city police. In fact, the handling of anti-CAA protests in Bihar, which turned violent at places too, was met with no such visibly strict action by the police. Why then, did the police at Munger take to blowing out the head of an 18-year old Durga devotee without giving a second thought to the consequences of such brazen action?
Unlike in the case of JNU or Jamia, where a bunch of rioters masquerading as students being taken to task by the police and paramilitary forces invited global outrage, nobody except nationalist Hindus in India seem to be concerned about the horrifying police brutality put on naked display in Bihar’s Munger. Perhaps, it is for this very reason that the lives of Hindus have become cheap in India. The lack of fear in many minds, about the consequences of gunning down or killing a Hindu, serves as a major cause of Hindus being assaulted and harassed in the first place. Hopefully, with the massive outrage and demand for action against those responsible for the brutalities in Munger, things would change for the better hereon.