At two of these programmes, at least one speaker referred to weapons. No FIR has been filed so far.
Less than a week after the Supreme Court clarified that any hesitation on part of the authorities to act against hate speech will amount to contempt of court, Maharashtra saw at least three events where speakers indulged in communally charged speeches. One of these was attended by Shrikant Shinde, a Shiv Sena MP and son of chief minister Eknath Shinde.
At two of these events, at least one speaker referred to weapons.
Trishuls were distributed by Bajrang Dal volunteers at an event in Nagpur on April 30, hate speeches delivered at another programme organised the same day by the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti in Jalgaon, and crowds urged to arm themselves at another event organised by the Sakal Hindu Samaj in Thane on April 30.
Jalgaon SP M Rajkumar said, “We have the entire recording of the event. We will go through it and will take appropriate action.”
Thane Joint Commissioner of Police Dattatray Karale and Nagpur Commissioner of Police Amitesh Kumar did not respond to calls and requests for comment by Newslaundry. This report will be updated if a response is received.
Shinde in audience
At an event organised in Thane’s Daighar by the Sakal Hindu Samaj, VHP leader Sadhvi Saraswati, Hindu seer Bharatnanda Saraswati and Jain monk Nilesh Chandra Maharaj gave communally charged speeches over “love jihad” and “land jihad”.
The Sakal Hindu Samaj, which has been spearheading protests for a “love jihad” law and has organised more than 60 rallies across Maharashtra over the last eight months, is an umbrella of RSS affiliates.
Sadhvi Saraswati, who was previously booked in Kerala for her speeches, propagated the Hindutva conspiracy theories of land, love, cinema and language jihads. She said Hindu women should influence the men in the family to become “extremists” and get ready to either kill or die to “save religion”. She said Hindu girls are being targeted by Muslims and they should buy swords instead of cosmetics, clothes or gadgets to teach any “vidharmi” a lesson – a “vidharmi”, or heretic, often translates to Muslim In Hindutva lexicon.
Addressing Muslims as “vidharmi”, Saraswati said, “Don’t let any vidharmi touch you… don’t sell your ancestral land to any vidharmi so that he is unable to do land jihad.”
With the chief minister’s son in the audience, Jain monk Nilesh Chandra Maharaj said the chief minister should learn from UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath how to handle Muslims. He claimed that if Mahatma Gandhi wasn’t shot dead by Nathuram Godse, the Hindu community would today have been praying in Mecca and Madina.
सकल हिंदू समाजातर्फे आज हिंदू जनजागरण धर्मसभेचे आयोजन करण्यात आले होते. ठाणे तालुक्यातील डायघरगाव येथील क्रीडांगणात ही सभा पार पडली. यावेळी उपस्थित होतो. 'लव्ह जिहाद - हिंदू भगिनींवरील धर्मसंकट रोखा' या मुख्य विषयावर आयोजित करण्यात आलेल्या या सभेला मोठ्या संख्येने हिंदू बांधव आणि… pic.twitter.com/tU8ApGpQQG— Dr Shrikant Eknath Shinde (@DrSEShinde) April 30, 2023
Bhartanand Saraswati, meanwhile, talked about “50 kinds of jihad”, including “thook jihad” – the Hindutva theory that Muslims spit on food items given to Hindus. “People ask why we put jihad in everything. We do so because these people conspire such activities.”
Blaming Muslims for the Covid crisis, Saraswati claimed that they denied vaccines and did not follow Covid protocols across the country. He urged the audience to watch the controversial film Kerala Story – endorsed by even PM Narendra Modi during the Karnataka poll campaign – and said Hindu girls should carry weapons. “Unless the government brings a law against love jihad, they should allow Hindu women to keep weapons. Gau rakshaks should also be allowed to carry weapons because they are getting killed.”
The events in Nagpur and Jalgaon
At a ‘trishul diksha’, or a programme organised by Bajrang Dal to distribute trishuls in Nagpur, speakers pointed to “love jihad” and conversions by Christian priests and Muslim clerics.
“Bajrang Dal volunteers are continuously working to stop such activities but need to increase their efforts. After taking trishul diksha from here, once you go back, wherever you see conversion, wherever you see love jihad, and wherever you see any kind of atrocity against the Hindu religion; it’s your responsibility to teach a lesson to those who are carrying out such activities,” one of the speakers told the audience.
Meanwhile, at another event organised by the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti in Jalgaon, one of the speakers said Hindu girls were being “killed” after being “trapped through love jihad” and pointed to the need to learn “self-defence”. “Whether it’s men or women, everyone needs to learn self-defence because the lives of Hindus are in danger in this Hindu majority country. For how long we should bear this injustice and atrocity. Are we born to get mutilated and killed?…it’s better to mutilate these love jihadis and rapists instead of getting mutilated and killed.”
Raqib Hameed Naik, founder of Hindutva Watch, a research project that documents hate speeches and hate crimes against religious minorities in India, said, “We have been closely monitoring the activities of Hindutva organisations in Maharashtra, and our data shows a disturbing trend of an extreme surge in hate speeches…We have documented more than 100 hate speeches delivered over the past six months. Most of these hate events were organised by Sakal Hindu Samaj, Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and Pravin Togadia led Antarashtriya Vishwa Hindu Parishad. They have been going around in towns and cities across the state, spreading conspiracy theories to demonise and encourage violence against Muslims. It is very clear that these Hindutva groups, emboldened by the backing of the state government, are spreading their venomous hate speech and propaganda with impunity. Not even a single arrest has been made in the FIRs filed by police in these cases.”
Aseem Sarode, a prominent lawyer who has appealed against hate speech in various cases, said, “Hate speech gradually leads to hate crimes and other offenses related to it…the intervention of the Supreme court clearly indicates that police was not doing its job. The Supreme Court cannot check at the ground level to see the implementation of its orders…it’s the sole responsibility of the police to make sure hate speech gets curbed in the state.”
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