Lucknow: Tension prevailed in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr on Thursday after a bike rally carried out by a Hindu outfit to fetch funds for the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya entered into a Muslim colony and allegedly passed abusive remarks at the residents.
Based on a complain made by the locals, the Bulandshahr police lodged a First Information Report under IPC sections 295 A (outraging religious feelings), section 153 A (promoting enmity between groups) and section 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of peace).
"A video was circulated on social media, in which two persons are making provocative comments against a specific community. As soon as it was brought to our notice, we took cognisance and arrested two people,” Bulandshahr Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) KB Singh told NewsClick.
When asked if the group had sought any prior permission to take out a procession, Singh refused to divulge the name of the organisation and the two arrested persons. "They are local men who have been identified with the help of the video circulating on social media. The video was shot when they were on their way back from a rally,” he said.
Aas Mohammad Ghazi, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader who filed the complaint in Bulandshahr, said, "This fund collection drive is to provoke Muslims and create opportunities to attack Muslims with the help of cops and civic authorities." The SP leader claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in power in the state, was pursuing politics of polarisation to meet its political agenda.
In the video of the Bulandshahr incident that went viral on social media, two persons are seen raising communal slogans; their motorcycle is among several others seen in the video, most of which have saffron flags attached to them.
This comes after three incidents of communal clashes were reported from neighbouring Madhya Pradesh's Ujjain, Indore and Mandsaur in the last week of December 2020. The incidents happened following rallies carried out by Bajrang Dal, Bhajpa Janta Yuva Morcha and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to get donations for Ram Temple.
Communal tensions have also erupted through recent incidents in Meerut during the Ram temple fund collection drives.
In an incident similar to that in Bulandshahr, BJP workers and local residents at Kazmabad Gun village in Meerut got into a fierce scuffle on Tuesday during a Jan Jagran rally organised with the aim of collecting funds for the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and also to create awareness about the temple.
A heated argument escalated into stone-pelting after several bike-borne BJP workers and a mini truck, loaded with heavy loudspeakers playing religious music, irked some local residents, who were attending the cremation of a woman. The family members of the deceased told NewsClick that despite repeatedly objection to the loud music and asked that it be played at a low volume, they did not pay any heed. Around dozen persons were injured in the brawl between the two groups.
A police officer on the condition of anonymity said that the rally was taken out without any permission from the district authorities. "The two accused, Ritik son of Ramesh Chand and Shivam Tomar son of Sirjit have been arrested and further investigation is going on," he said.
In another incident, Swami Anand Swaroop, head of an organisation named Shankaracharya Parishad, was purportedly seen calling for an economic boycott of Muslims at a function organised at Chaudhary Charan Singh University in Meerut.
“War has been declared. We need more than 1 crore Hindu warriors in the times to come. They should carry with them sticks, guns and any other weapons required since a battle is imminent. If you are not careful, you can be killed,” he purportedly said in a video that has gone viral on social media.
Meanwhile, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and former MP from Kanpur, Subhashini Ali has written to UP Director General of Police (DGP) Hitesh C Awasthy, seeking his intervention in the case and sought to ensure punishment consistent with the indictment. A left parties delegation led by Ravi Shankar Mishra, the UP Secretary of the CPI (Marxist), went to meet the DGP to submit the letter, but he was not available.
Ajay Kumar Sahni, SSP of Meerut, told NewsClick that Anand Swaroop is being investigated by the police's cyber cell team and necessary action will be taken against the accused. However, so far, no action has been taken against Anand Swaroop even four days after the incident.
"Fund collection for Ram Temple is not only happening in Uttar Pradesh but Bihar and Madhya Pradesh too. The reputation of the state government suffers a blot
due to such incidents - love jihad, brawl in the name of fund collection for Ram Mandir," Subhashini Ali told NewsClick.
She further said, "The farmers' movement at Delhi borders are growing stronger and no stone is being left unturned by the government to polarise the protests and trying to break the morale of farmers by organising such rallies or giving hate speech," said the CPI(M) leader, adding that in her letter to the UP DGP regarding the hate speech of Anand Swaroop, she had warned if action was not taken in a week, then she would look for other ways.
Rs 700 Crore to be Raised from People for Ram Temple
The BJP and its ideological parent the Rashtriya Sayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have launched a drive from January 14 to February 27 to collect funds for the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
For this purpose, the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas has given Uttar Pradesh the target for collecting a huge amount of funds--at an estimated Rs 700 crore.
To achieve the target, the leaders of the BJP and those of the Sangh have to work along with the party workers.
Ram Mandir Trust spokesperson and senior Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) functionary Champat Rai has said: "The dedication campaign and crowdfunding drive on behalf of the trust have already kicked off on January 14 and it will continue till February 27 (Magh Poornima). The collection of funds will begin with the President, Prime Minister and Vice President of India. The collection of funds in all cities will begin with the leading people like the first civilian mayor etc. Over 55 crore members of 12 crore Hindu families in more than 5 lakh villages will be linked to it. For the collection of funds, one lakh teams will come out on road across the country and there will be a minimum of three people in each group.”
The trust aims to raise over Rs 688.52 crore through Rs100 coupons and another Rs24.92 crore through Rs 10 coupons, said senior VHP members in the know.
Commenting on the incidents happening in Uttar Pradesh on the name of fund collection for Ram Temple, Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay award-winner social activist, said, “The rally is being carried out for vote polarisation so that communal violence takes place and they can do politics on it. They also want to divert attention from the farmers’ protests because the central government is on backfoot.” Pandey added that he failed to understand why there was a need for fund collection or bike rally when the Supreme Court has given the disputed land to them and anyone can donate money for the temple. “It’s obvious that they are raining provocative slogans during rallies,” he said.