Patna: A PUCL Bihar fact-finding report has claimed that Hindutva forces were responsible for climbing a mosque wall and planting a saffron flag on top of its gate in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district last month to hurt their (Muslims) religious sentiments, and to provoke them to retaliate with violence. The report also highlighted that, in all likelihood, it was pre-planned.
According to the report, on April 10, the last day of Ram Navami, a procession of 500-600 men carrying swords, sticks and allegedly three guns, including a semi-automatic AK-47 rifle, took out in Kazi Mohammadpur village in Muzaffarpur. The procession stopped at a Mosque, playing loud music with derogatory lyrics threatening the Muslim community like Miya K**** Jayenge (Muslims will be killed) and Musalmaan Pakistan Jao (Muslims go to Pakistan). Slogans like Pakistan Murdabaad (Death to Pakistan) and Pakistan Chale Jao (Go to Pakistan) were heard. The men from this procession went on to vandalise the mosque with their swords, and then a man climbed on top of a Minar in the outer area of the mosque and planted a saffron flag on top of it.
“The actions of the Hindutva mob show that they attempted to make Muslims feel emasculated, to hurt their religious sentiments, and to provoke them to retaliate with violence. Although the residents (of minority community) didn’t respond and reacted to the provocation,” the report added.
The fact-finding team came across a video that had gone viral. The video, which was shot on the phone by someone in this profession, shows the procession celebrating by dancing outside the mosque to DJ music as a man climbs the mosque’s wall to hoist a saffron flag on the outer minar of the mosque. The man then raises his hand to celebrate his deed and gets down from the wall. He gets on his bike as many others continue to shoot video of the flag on top of the minar, and many others are dancing with a sword in their hands.
“Prima facie, the chances of this incident happening spontaneously are low, and in all likelihood, it was pre-planned. First, the participants in the procession were heavily armed. Second, they came in a great number of about 500-600. Third, the procession did not follow the route as allowed by the police and decided to take the procession to the mosque. Fourth, the availability of derogatory music, which was played by the procession in front of the mosque. The fact-finding team visited Kazi Mohammadpur on April 14, 2022. On the way to Kazi Mohammadpur from Patna, the Factfinding Team observed identical bhagwa (saffron) coloured flags planted on almost every tree. The handiwork looked planned rather than spontaneous work of faithful people. The people of Kazi Mohammadpur say that a large number of cadres of Bajrang Dal, Hindu Putra and RSS were mobilised to carry out this work,” the report said.
The report quoted a local resident, Neyaz Ahmad, about the incident. “I got to know about this incident at night. This was a planned action to scare us so that we don’t raise our eyes, to make us slaves. They are telling us to beware, to show us that our place is under them. They have started using this route since last year. We do not have any problem with their procession passing our mosque; as long as they pass peacefully we see no reason to have a problem.”
Another local Qamruddin, 76, said, “I was lying down here in the mosque. The gate was open. I did not recognise them. One of them climbed up; another handed him the flag. They stopped here and danced to music hurling abuses at Muslims. The playing of these vile songs started last year.”
However, the report said the immediate action by the Mukhiya of the Gram Panchayat to prevent such a reaction must be applauded. His actions rightly display that the priority in such cases should be to prevent the escalation of violence, which otherwise may cause loss of livelihoods and even lives. That being said, the acts of violence that have occurred in many parts of the country during the Ram Navami celebrations must be examined thoroughly to devise a course of action to prevent such occurrences in the future.
As per the report, the police have taken swift action by lodging an FIR and putting apt sections of IPCs and other Acts on the perpetrators. It should be noted that they have arrested ten persons, but their role was dubious at the time of the incidents because there was no presence of police when such a sensitive religious procession was going on.
“The role of the administration is questionable because it has given no attention to the timing, route, content of sloganeering of the processions. It is also questionable how and why permission to carry weapons was given to the people in the procession. This is a matter of deep and proper investigation. It is alleged that organisations like Bajrang Dal, Hindu Sena etc., were involved in this incident. Such allegations must be investigated properly, and if found true stern actions should be taken against them,” the report said.