Rajat Sharma

Yogi formula: Refrain from violence, or face action

akb full_frame_74900On Thursday, the Supreme Court gave three days’ time to UP government to file its replies to the petition filed by Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind seeking stay on further demolitions in the state. The vacation bench of Justice A S Bopanna and Justice Vikram Nath posted the matter for further hearing on Tuesday while saying “everything should look fair and make sure that nothing untoward happens in the meantime”.

Meanwhile, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath has instructed all district collectors and SSPs to hold peace meeting with maulanas, imams and ulema, and ensure that no violence takes place after this week’s Friday prayers in mosques. Yogi has instructed senior police officers to speak to top citizens of civil society in their cities and take the help of clerics to persuade people not to stage protests after Friday prayers.

On Wednesday, district collectors and SSPs in most of the districts, alongwith local SHOs of police stations held peace meetings with civil society representatives, and persuaded them to ensure no more protests are held. Simultaneously, these officials told them that if protesters resorted to stone pelting, then they will have to face the full brunt of law. Stone pelters and their handlers may have to face demolitions too, they were told.

In Gonda district, the district collector Ujjwal Kumar and SP Santosh Kumar Mishra told a meeting of all clerics that there should be no violence this time. Peace committee representatives were clearly told to tell youths and others not to forward objectionable, hate posts on their mobile phones, otherwise they could face action.

It may be recalled that similar peace meetings were held after June 3 Friday violence in Kanpur, but a week later, on June 10, fresh incidents of stone pelting took place in Prayagraj, Saharanpur and Moradabad after Friday prayers.

On Wednesday, at the peace meeting in Gonda, Khurshid Alama Azhari, general secretary of Gonda Rahmania Masjid said, if a person has insulted the Prophet, he or she should get punishment by law, but resorting to stone pelting and arson is unjustified. Azhari told Muslims that they should persuade their youths not to resort to violence, otherwise the family may have to bear the consequences.

In Etah, DIG, Aligarh Range Deepak Kumar told the peace committee meeting that police does not like wield lathis or put youths in jails. “We do not get gold medals for this. We do this only when we find ourselves helpless. If peace committee members convince their own community members, such incidents will not take place”, Kumar said.

In Loni, near Ghaziabad, local circle officer Rajnish Kumar Upadhyay told the peace committee members that “when public properties are set on fire, or roads are broken, people should know that the properties do not belong to a single community. They belong to the society. People should abstain from damaging public properties.”

Maulana Hanif Qadri told the peace committee meeting that Muslims are facing trouble because of their tendency to go to the streets. “Some people indulge in violence and the entire community is blamed. In the past too, there had been remarks against the Prophet, but such violence never took place.”

In UP, till now, more than 350 people have been arrested after Friday violence. In Prayagraj, which was the hotspot last week during Friday violence, more than 92 people have been arrested. Many have gone underground, and their families are now fearing demolition of their homes and shops.

On Wednesday, Prayagraj Police issued photographs of nearly 40 accused, who took part in violence. The photographs clearly show the accused pelting stone, setting vehicles on fire, through cctv video grabs. These posters have been posted across the city. Police have asked them to surrender, otherwise their properties will be seized.

I remember UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s remarks which he made when he came to my show ‘Aap Ki Adalat’. He had then said, “I am a sanyasi, my dharma is to show the right path to society. My duty is to differentiate between what is good and evil. Those who are enemies of society need to be persuaded with love, but if they do not heed to advice, they must face strict action. In our Sanatan tradition, a sanyasi carries a ‘maala’ (garland) in one hand, and a ‘bhaala’ (spear) in the other hand.”

Yogi is applying this formula in UP now. Whether it was removal of loudspeakers from temples and mosques, or offering of namaaz on public roads, his strategy was quite clear.

While other state governments were tying themselves up with knots over these issues, Yogi spoke to different religious leaders and the results are there for all to see. Most of the religious shrines removed their loudspeakers. Not only on Friday, but also on Eid, namaaz prayers were no more offered on public roads. The local administration opened up school and college grounds adjacent to the mosques for offering namaaz. At Eidgahs, huge pandals were erected for namaaz.

The bottomline was: no more namaaz prayers on public roads. Yogi tried to find his way out through love, brotherhood and peace. Now that violence have taken place after Friday namaaz on the issue of blasphemy, Yogi is speaking to all clerics asking them to persuade Muslims. If, in spite of persuasions, violence takes place, the other hard option is open.

One big fallout was that the hardliner Islamic cleric Maulana Tauqir Raza, who had planned a protest meeting in Bareilly on Friday (June 17), has called off his meeting. Bareilly Police had refused to give his permission for the meeting. The cleric now says, he will hold his meeting on Sunday.

There is no doubt that most of the Hindus and Muslims want peace, and respect the religious feelings of one another. Most of the Islamic clerics and Hindu sadhus also want brotherhood. But there are fringe elements in both communities, who, with the help of mischief makers, try to foment violence.

I have said several times in the past, how some people try to misinterpret statements, so that they can gain importance, but when stone pelting and arson take place, such fringe elements vanish. Remember, stone pelting, lathi charge and arson cause losses to the poor people. We should spread awareness among the people. Fringe elements took advantage of Nupur Sharma’s blasphemous remarks and incited stone pelters and arsonists. We should guard ourselves against such elements.

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