These four separate incidents in two states – Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh – were driven by just one motive: sparking communal disharmony through false information.
by Aditya Menon, @adityamenon22
1. Abdul Khan, the fictitious ISIS Bangalore bomber: Until a day ago, the Twitter handle @LatestAbdul that ran tweets claiming responsibility for the Church Street blast in Bangalore, was speculated to belong to one of the radicalised Indian Muslim cadres of the ISIS. Now it turns out that the person behind the terror threats is a 17-year-old and reportedly not a Muslim. The police claims the teenager Satish (name changed) was mentally stressed. Going by the name Abdul Khan, Satish had been had been threatening to bomb a college for a while and had tagged members of the police force and politicians in his tweets.
On his Twitter timeline, Satish/Abdul had hurled abuses at a wide range of people such as Bangalore police commissioner MN Reddi, DCP (crime) Abhishek Goyal, Union home minister Rajnath Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He had threatened to bomb the Alvas College in Moodbidri in Dakshina Kannada if police did not release alleged ISIS sympathiser Mehdi Masroor Biswas, who ran the pro-ISIS Twitter handle @ShamiWitness.
On December 22, “Abdul” had tweeted to commissioner Reddi, “Let’s start the game, Karnataka Police cannot catch us.” He threatened that he would kill at least a thousand people. He had also claimed that he and ISIS members were seeking funds, to “blast all of India” if needed.
2. Desh Raj Singh the “professional riot-manufacturer”: On December 15, a buffalo carcass was found on the premises of a temple in Parsauli village in Budhana block of the Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh. Also inscribed on the temple wall was an inflammatory message in support of the Islamic State. On December 20, parts of a buffalo carcass were found inside another temple in the area and an idol of Nandi was reportedly found missing. Budhana had witnessed communal violence during last year’s riots in Muzaffarnagar and the two incidents sparked tensions yet again. Union minister Sanjeev Baliyan, who is accused of instigating the riots, also visited the area.
The Uttar Pradesh police’s investigation revealed that this was the handiwork of 35-year old Desh Raj who wanted to instigate riots in the area. Apparently, Raj even confessed that he killed a dog and left its corpse hanging in a mosque to fuel tensions. According to the police, Raj claims that his aim was to ensure that “koi masjid na rahe, sirf mandir rahe (no mosques should remain, only temples should remain)”. Many Muslims who were displaced during the riots last year were settled near Parsauli village. Apparently, this demographic change in the area upset him. Desh Raj would have succeeded had the police not caught him and exposed his plan in time. Looking to fish in troubled waters, the UP unit of the Shiv Sena had threatened to hold a Hindu mahapanchayat in the district if the culprit was not caught.
3. A gang-rape that wasn’t: In August this year, we heard of the ghastly gang-rape of a Hindu girl at a madrassa in Meerut. With each passing day, more and more sordid details of the case started coming out: that the girl was gangraped and forcibly made to convert to Islam; that a flesh trade racket was being run from the madrassa, where she was an employee; that many women were held captive there and then sold off to rich men in Gulf countries. The allegations sparked an outrage and understandably so. Western Uttar Pradesh, which was already a communal tinderbox, came on the verge of another riot.
Two months later, the victim filed a report denying that she was gangraped or forcibly made to convert. She claimed that she had actually eloped from home with a Muslim boy. She wrote in the statement, “I was staying with my parents, but I ran away from home because I feel a threat to my life from my parents and relatives… I went with the boy belonging to a different community out of my own will”. Hindutva groups spared no effort in raking up the “Meerut gangrape” especially as it also came on the eve of crucial by-elections in Uttar Pradesh.
Each and every aspect of the entire tale – from the “forcible conversion” to the “madrassa gangrape”, and of course, “girls being sold in the Gulf” – were straight out of a Hindutva hate-monger’s playbook. Of course, no story involving a Muslim villain is complete without women being forcibly converted to Islam and sold to an Arab shaikh!
4. Pakistani flag, Hindutva flag bearers: In January 2012, six activists of the right-wing Sri Ram Sene were arrested for trying to instigate communal violence in the north Karnataka town of Sindhagi. Their modus operandi was unique. They hoisted the Pakistani flag on the mini Vidhan Soudha premises, blamed the act on the Muslims and, on the very next day, staged demonstrations in the town protesting against the delay in arresting those responsible! Like the young Satish, the Sene cadres were all aged between 18 to 20. The men, who saw themselves as defenders of Indian nationalism, actually took the trouble to stitch the Pakistani flag at their homes. Of course, this act of mischief hardly came as a surprise as Sene chief Pramod Muthalik was himself caught in a sting operation in 2010, discussing how his outfit could instigate a riot for a price.
These four separate incidents in two states – Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh – were driven by just one motive: portraying Muslims as the biggest threat to India.
Now, it is fortunate that the people responsible were caught in these four occasions and the respective state administrations deserve full credit for their work. But there could be numerous cases in which Muslims have been wrongfully accused. We know of the Malegaon, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta attacks because of the investigation by the late Hemant Karkare and his team. But what about cases where the administration is not unbiased and where the investigation officers aren’t someone like Karkare?
This article first appeared on daily O.