Rajat Sharma

Friday violence: Identify perpetrators and bring them to book

rajat-sirProtests took place in several parts of India after Friday afternoon prayers over objectionable remarks made by two suspended BJP leaders against Prophet Mohammad. In Ranchi and Prayagraj, the protests escalated into stoning and arson, with two persons dying of injuries in Ranchi. Curfew has been clamped in the violence-hit areas of Ranchi. On Saturday too, West Bengal Police had to fire tear gas shells to quell protesters who had resorted to stoning in Howrah.

In Telangana, the national tricolour was defaced and insulted, while in Ranchi, the SSP was injured and an SHO suffered head injuries. In a new trend that was noticed on Friday, young Muslim kids were given stones to throw at police in Prayagraj and they were used as human shields by protesters against police action.

In Karnataka, Muslim women in burqa came out to march in protests. In most of the places, the protesters were demanding immediate arrest of former BJP spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Navin Kumar Jindal for making objectionable remarks against the Prophet.

Friday protests took place in Delhi, Moradabad, Saharanpur, Prayagraj, Bhopal, Howrah, Ranchi, Ahmednagar, Belgavi, Hyderabad and Mahboobnagar. The most surprising visuals came from Prayagraj, where soon after Friday prayers, kids came out of lanes and streets of Atala locality and started stoning policemen. These children were deliberately given stones by rioters to throw at police.

Suddenly, a huge crowd assembled at Khuldabad Chowk, and stoning began from rooftops at police. Stoning continued for nearly half an hour during which police used tear gas shells. Police officials had held peace meetings with local Muslim leaders on Thursday and Friday, but this was of no avail. Several vehicles were set on fire. Senior officials like the IG, SSP and DM were injured in stoning.

Similar protests took place in Moradabad and Saharanpur despite promises made to the police earlier by Islamic clerics there would be no protests. A senior UP Police official said, nearly 140 persons have been arrested from six districts after Friday protests. The districts are: Prayagraj, Saharanpur, Hathras, Ambedkar Nagar, Moradabad and Firzabad.

UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath held a late Friday night meeting with top officials and instructed them to teach a lesson to protests who indulged in stoning and arson. He however told them not to harass innocent people, but ensure that nobody should have the gumption to take law in his own hands. If children are used as tools for throwing stones at police, such masterminds are nothing but anti-nationals. Strict action must be taken against them.

The promptness with which UP police took action after Friday protests is commendable. It is because of Yogi’s alertness and speed that the overall situation in the state is under control. The conspirators had planned a major conflagration, but their ploy did not succeed. Rioters will be put behind bars, those absconding will have their names published on posters, and fines will be collected for public properties that were damaged. Illegal properties will be bulldozed.

There are people who will shed crocodile tears for these stone throwers, and show that the UP government is harassing innocent people. Yogi Adityanath does not care for such statements. I feel, other chief ministers should take a cue from Yogi and take stern action against stone throwers and rioters. They must show courage by taking action against law breakers.

Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren is one, who should take a cue from Yogi. In Ranchi, on Friday, protesters not only indulged in stoning and arson, they also damaged a Hanuman temple on the way. There were thousands of protesters and the police force was outnumbered.

Ranchi SP Anshuman Kumar said, Muslim leaders had promised a peaceful protest, but son after namaaz, the protest turned violent. The protesters attacked Hindu devotees coming out of a Hanuman temple on Albert Ekka Chowk. Protesters ransacked the temple and broke idols of gods and goddesses. The priests fled for their safety.

I am surprised over CM Hemant Soren’s reaction. He said, we should also take note of why this protest took place. A chief minister’s task is not lecturing, but to ensure that the rule of law prevails. His police personnel were desperately seeking help, but the chief minister was talking about the genesis of the problem. It will be a travesty of justice if Soren fails to put the stone throwers and rioters behind bars.

The people of India will never tolerate such intransigence. Chief Minister Soren must act with firmness and find out who insulted our national flag. One thing is clear. Friday protests were not spontaneous, it was a pan-India plan. There were protests outside several mosques in Hyderabad. The Foreign Minister of Iran was present inside the historic Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad on Friday, but the protests did not show respect, and continued with their sloganeering, and threw stones at police.

The stupidity of some protests in Mahboobnagar was at its nadir. Some of them came out with national tricolour flag, but the charkha in the middle was replaced with Arabic kalma. This was sheer insult of our national symbol. Such protests can never be allowed. Every India citizen has the democratic right to protest, but superimposing kalma on our national wheel symbol, is an outright insult to our national flag. Protesters may have their grouse against a political party, but, in the name of protest, they cannot insult our national pride.

All of us have condemned Nupur Sharma’s remarks about the Prophet, but no one has the right to give a call to behead her or rape her. Those lumpens trying to flex their muscle power in the name of religion must understand that the rule of law shall prevail in India. I know most of the Muslims are peace loving people, but there are elements in their midst who incite passions. They should be identified and isolated. Because of the depraved acts of a few, the entire community is defamed. To me, it is clear as daylight that the Friday protests, stoning and arson were part of a planned conspiracy.

Three types of arguments are being given: One, the Muslim community is hurt over the objectionable remarks made against the Prophet by Nupur Sharma, and action taken so far against her is inadequate, that she and Naveen Kumar Jindal must be arrested and put behind bars. This group says, Muslims came out to protest, police stopped them with lathis and in retaliation, they threw stones. It means, police was responsible for the clashes.

The second group says, Maulanas had appealed to people not to protest, and those who protested came from outside. So, the onus is on police to find out who were the outsiders. They say, police intelligence failed. The third group says, it was the police which ‘arranged’ stoning in order to defame Muslim community.

All the three groups put the blame on police, but I do not think, nobody will believe such hogwash. On the contrary, police acted with maximum restraint, used minimum force. Police was helpless when children were used by rioters as protective shield.

Imagine the outrage that could have taken place if a kid had died in police lathicharge. The truth is that there was stoning, a large number of policemen were injured, our national tricolour was insulted, and the masterminds were directing all these through social media campaigns. Hate messages were forwarded through WhatsApp. The need of the hour is to identify the masterminds and teach them a lesson, and, at the same time, ensure that no innocent person is harassed.

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