Rajat Sharma


AKB2103 The violence that took place on Thursday and Friday during Ramnavami procession in Shibpur, Howrah of West Bengal is condemnable. Thirtysix persons have been arrested. Hoodlums set fire to vehicles and ransacked shops soon after stones were pelted at the procession from a mosque. The procession was brought out by four Hindu outfits including Vishwa Hindu Parishad after obtaining prior police permission. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that BJP and VHP were behind these clashes. BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari said, more than a crore Hindus took part in peaceful Ramnavami processions across West Bengal and Mamata Banerjee was threatening Hindus. It is right that Hindus in West Bengal are apprehensive about Mamata Banerjee’s stand on Ramnavami and the BJP is trying to highlight this. During the last four years, BJP tried to celebrate Hindu festivals in Bengal on a large scale, but every time Mamata Banerjee took a tough stand. Three years ago, her goernment banned Hanuman Jayanti and Ramnavami processions, and once ordered that immersion of Durga Puja idols will take place only after Muharram processions are over. This time, while allowing Ramnavami processions, Mamata Banerjee had given strict warnings that the processions must not pass through Muslim localities, due to observance of Ramzan. Hindu outfit leaders said that they too had observed fast for nine days during Navratri, and why should their religious sentiments be ignored. BJP is bound to make this an issue. Mamata Banerjee knows that she can face political damage if BJP tries to mobilize Hindus in Bengal.


There was violence in Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar (formerly Aurangabad) and Jalgaon in Maharashtra during Ramnavami. On the night preceding Ramnavami, two groups clashed in Kiradpura. There was stoning and vandalism. A man injured in police firing succumbed to injuries on Thursday night. Sixteen policemen were injured and several private and police vehicles were burnt. Sambhaji Nagar has AIMIM leader Imtiaz Jaleel as its member of Parliament. Imtiaz went to a temple, sat inside and prevented it from being set on fire. In Jalgaon, 56 persons were arrested after groups indulged in stoning when a Ramnavani procession was passing in front of a mosque. The clash began over the use of sound systems during ‘namaaz’ prayers. Several vehicles were vandalized during stoning. In Vadodara, Gujarat, 24 stone pelters were detained after clashes erupted during Ramnavami procession. In Delhi, police in Jahangirpuri allowed the procession to be taken out only for 200 metres instead of 5 km and defused the situation. Delhi Police showed exemplary attitude and thus managed to avert clashes. The moot point is: Why did clashes take place in Bengal, Maharashtra and Gujarat in Muslim localities? Why clashes took place this year while peaceful processions were being taken out every year? Was there any conspiracy behind it? Who are the persons who conspired? What was their motive? This matter should be thoroughly investigated. Ramnavami processions were stoned, Ramzan is being observed by Muslims, and Eid will be celebrated in April. If violence takes place, it will vitiate the atmosphere. Police must take quick action and nab the conspirators. Such anti-socials are not devotees of any religion, they are enemies of society, and are a threat to peace. Action is needed, as was taken in Uttar Pradesh. Earlier violence used to take place in UP during Ramnavami, Hanuman Jayanti, Durga Puja and Muharram, but on Thursday, no clash took place. Thousands of processions were taken out peacefully in UP on Thursday. Not a single stone was pelted. When news about clashes was coming from Bengal and Maharashtra, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath was offering prayers to Goddess Bhagati in Gorakhpur, and thousands of devotees had congregated for darshan of Ram Lala in Ayodhya.


The best visuals of Ramnavami came from Srinagar. Hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits and ISKCON devotees brought out Ramnavami procession from the Ram temple in Habba Kadal to Lal Chowk amidst chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Hare Ram, Hare Krishna’. A large number of local residents took part in the procession. Teenagers wearing costumes depicting various characters of Ramayana took part. Most of them said, it was unimaginable to take out a procession till a few years ago. I felt happy watching these visuals. They depict the changes that have come in the Valley during the last four years. A few days ago, we saw the new temple of Maa Sharda built on land donated by Muslims. Muslim brethren helped in rebuilding the temple and many of them attended the inauguration of the temple. On Thursday, Muslims joined Ramnavami procession. This, in essence, is Kashmiriyat. It reflects India’s ‘Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb’ (tradition). Those who pelted stones at Ramnavami processions in Bengal, Maharashtra and Gujarat should learn from Kashmiris.


On Ramnavami day, Swami Ramdev gave ‘deeksha’ (initiation) to 100 new disciples at the Patanjali Yog Peeth in Haridwar. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat attended. In the evening, Patanjali University was inaugurated by Home Minister Amit Shah, who praised Swami Ramdev’s tireless efforts in the field of yoga, ayurveda, swadeshi and Vedic education. There is no denying the fact that Swami Ramdev has done a great service to the nation in popularizing yoga and ayurveda. Now he has big plans for Vedic education. For Swami Ramdev, creating a university is not a commercial project. He has promised to invest a major part of his commercial earnings from Patanjali to impart modern and Vedic education to our youths. Swami Ramdev is preparing a big army of sannyasins to achieve this objective. Thursday’s ‘deeksha’ to the new sannyasins was part of this process. They are those who have opted to leave their families to work for religion and service to the nation, for the rest of their life. I praise them for their lofty ideals and wish them all a bright future.

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