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Maharashtra: Post-Temple, Communal Tension Escalates in Mira Road; Hindutva Outfits Barge Into FTII

The state is seen as electorally crucial for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, as it sends 48 MPs to Lok Sabha.
Maharashtra: Post-Temple, Communal Tension Escalates in Mira Road; Hindutva Outfits Barge Into FTII

Image Courtesy: Twitter/@ItsKhan_Saba

New Delhi: A day after the Ram Temple consecration ceremony on Ayodhya, communal tension has escalated in certain parts of Maharashtra. The area worst affected was Mira Road in Thane.

Also, on Tuesday, Right-wing outfit members barged into Pune’s prestigious Film Institute of India (FTII) and tore down banners put up by the students association that said the demolition of Babri Masjid was unconstitutional.

Incidentally, Maharashtra is seen as electorally crucial for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, as it sends 48 MPs to Lok Sabha, second after the highest 80 MPs in Uttar Pradesh. The Lok Sabha elections are due to be held soon.

On Tuesday, communal tension ran high in Mira Road in Thane, where vandals were seen (in videos) pelting stones at shops owned by Muslims. Later, the municipal authorities stepped with bulldozers and  started razing the shops, which they said were “encroachments”.

The communal tension began on the eve of the Ram Temple consecration on January 22, Over the next two days, the tension escalated.

According to a report in The Quint, on Sunday at 11 p.m, the police tried to stop a rally by Hindutva outfits from entering a Muslim locality in Mira Road, following which there were clashes “from both sides”. Soon several videos went viral on social media, showing cars and vehicles being attacked, a Muslim man being forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and shops being vandalised. The police intervened and tried to stop the mobs and even held marches to control the situation.

A minor clash was also reported from the Kachhi Mohalla area of Panvel, after a few youth carrying out a bike rally chanted slogans outside a local mosque which led to a clash,” said The Quint report.

FTII Vandalised

On Tuesday, in Pune, Right wing outfit members set on fire a banner put up by the FTII Students’ Association condemning the demolition of Babri Masjid and terming it unconstitutional.

“Preliminary probe has revealed that a banner was displayed on the campus by the FTII Students’ Association. Our information also suggests that screening of a film and an exhibition of photos related to the history of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi issue was also organised on the campus,” an officer from Deccan Gymkhana police station, told The Indian Express.

An FIR was filed based on a complaint by the FTII security officer in the evening against 12-15 men who had entered the campus.

‘Investigation has revealed that the members of the group do not belong to one outfit but multiple Hindutva right-wing groups based in Pune. We are in the process of identifying all the persons who were part of the group,” the officer told IE.

 As per the FIR, reported by IE, “Around 1.30 pm, a group of 12 to 15 persons gathered outside the FTII campus in an unauthorised manner. They were asking how FTII students can be involved in ‘anti-national’ acts. They manhandled the security personnel and entered the campus illegally and were chanting slogans. They were asking the students why they were doing ‘anti-national’ acts. They thrashed the students and pulled down and tore the banner and set it on fire and also threatened the students.”

Incidentally, award-winning documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, whose film ‘Ram Ke Naam’, made in the run-up to the demolition of the Babri masjid by Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s  Kar Sevaks in December 1992, was screened in FTII on Monday. When asked by IE, the film director said “A similar incident occurred yesterday in Kerala regarding the screening of the same movie. Just a day before yesterday, three organisers in Hyderabad were arrested by the police for the screening of a movie in a restaurant.’

While calling the incident an attack on freedom of expression, he said that the movie was legal and had been watched by the whole nation.

Meanwhile, in Kerala, the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) had planned to screen the documentary film in front of K R Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts in Kottayam on Tuesday evening. But the screening was forced to shift inside the campus after a protest by Hindu Right wing outfits and some local BJP members.

However, a defiant DYFI has now announced that it will screen the film across Kerala, will not be “intimidated” and foil any “attack’ on freedom of expression and right to dissent by communal forces.

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