So on the 2nd of June, 2014 ‘pehla wicket padli’ (the first wicket went down), that of one Mohsin Saikh’s – the credit going to the ‘bowling brigade’ of Dhanajay Desai.
Now who’s this Mohsin Saikh? An easily identifiable member of his community, sporting beard and wearing skullcap. And who is Dhananjay Desai? He is the chief of the “Hindu Rastra Sena,’ an offshoot of the RSS, with its motto of ‘Hinduize the politics, militarize the Hindus.’
Heard of Dr. Moonje? Dr. Balkrishna Shivram Moonje, a pioneering Hindutva proponent, was the All India President of the Hindu Mahasabha for many years, till he handed over charge to Veer Savarkar in 1937. He and Veer Savarkar, the much celebrated parivaar icon, worked together for long.
Dr. Moonje launched the Bhonsala Military School at Nashik. The school’s website solemnly declares: “Dr. Moonje, obsessed with idea of our youth in forces and civil services to uphold the integrity and sovereignty of our Motherland, landed in Nashik.
“In 1935 He established Central Hindu Military Education Society at Nashik at his age of 63 with the aim of Indianisation of Army (Indian Defence) and started ‘Bhonsala Military School’ in 1937.
“Nashik is well known and famous for legendary association with Lord Rama. It was with this background in mind that the founder named the campus of the school as Rambhoomi and the students are called “Ramdandees”- followers of Lord Rama.”
If Dr. Moonje’s ‘realization’ of the necessity of ‘Indianisation of Military and Militarisation of India’ inspired him to found the Bhonsala Military School, the same conviction made drills with basic implements like lathi compulsory in all RSS shakhas.
If students from the Bhonsala institute are regularly recruited in our army, the RSS training moulds the likes of Dhananjay Desai. And he puts his Bhonsala peers’ thoughts to better use and not waste time joining the army. After all the enemies are there inside the country too.
This man, Dhananjay Desai, has the gall to upload in the social media the warning letters issued by police to him for his inflammatory speeches and pamphlets, mocking that he gets a few thousand rupees every month selling ‘such junks.’ He is an accused in Narendra Dhabolkar murder also.
He and his team have as many as 23 cases registered against them. Since he got too enthusiastic with his cleansing project and started his work immediately on the Hindutva hero’s becoming PM, that became a bit too uncomfortable for the new ruling establishment and so has been arrested – after all the Godhra manager has been taking pains to transform himself into a sadhbhavana saint.
It might also be disturbing to be told that Dhananjay’s team has large numbers of minors with them. Poisoning of the mind starts very, very early. If their parents encourage it, we get some idea of their values.
Let us deconstruct the current case. One ‘Nehal Khan’ posted some ‘offensive’ morphed photos of Shivaji and Bal Thakarey in Osmanabad. Later that ‘Nehal Khan’ turned out to be some ‘Nikhil Tikone’. Now nobody knows why he did so. He could be a cog in the hate-mongering wheel of Hindutva. He could be someone like Devu Chodankar of Goa who got into trouble by denouncing Modi. Or he could just well be having fun.
But, for Dhanajay Deasi trained in RSS morning drills and taught that his mission is to save the ‘Hindu’ dharm, the pictures should have been no less than an affront to his ideology. So he and his brigade went on a rampage on 1st June, burning hundreds of buses and other public property. The police were happily or helplessly looking on. After all the new PM is the PM because his minions did some such and worse 12 years ago.
When people were shuddering behind closed doors as to what next, Muslims particularly, and the police were going through the motions of protecting law and order, Dhanajay Desai’s bike brigade could blithely go door to door and threaten them of worse to come if they dared challenge the Hindu order or insulted the Hindu traditions.
Next day things got uglier. Rumor mills worked overtime to claim that a statue of Shivaji had been defaced and a Hindu girl raped by a Muslim boy.
Anxious and frightened, Muslims in different parts of Pune went about garlanding statues of Shivaji and Bal Thakarey too – to demonstrate their respect and hopefully bring down the tension. But it didn’t help either. The Hindutva mobs went on vandalizing masjids and Muslim properties.
The poor Mohsin Saikh, who was on his way back from evening prayers was the first victim of the whipped up frenzy. Mohsin’s friend Ameen Saikh had to feign dead to live on and recall the hate-filled chants of the killers – ‘Dhara yala dhara, ya dadhi topi walya la dhara sodu naka yala, mara” (Catch him catch, this cap-wearing bearded man, don’t leave him, beat him).’’
Yet another person with the unfortunate Mohsin could flee too, actually they let him flee because luckily (!) he neither sported beard nor wore skull cap.
All in the face of ‘heavy’ police bandobust. Other reports say that frightened people of the locality have started shaving off beards and shunning attires identified with Muslims. What’s the degree of safety it can really provide where there are instances of unclothing people for ascertaining the identities? And what kind of society sires such socio-psychological mindspace?
Even prisons are not safe for Muslims, it turns out. Two youngsters, arrested during the Facebook-related incidents, have alleged that they were forced to shave off their beards when they were lodged at the Yerwada Jail in Pune. Abdul Sattar, one of the two, said he burst into tears while pleading with the jail wardens, but to no avail.
“We requested them to not force us to shave our beards. We need it for namaz. But they were adamant. We asked them to direct us to the right officials with whom we could discuss our case and we were mockingly made to run from pillar to post, anyway all in vain,” said a shattered Sattar .
When he pointed out to the wardens that the jail manual did not compel him to shave his beard, the wardens snapped, “Your rules will not apply here (jail).”
Jailor Yogesh Desai said he had noted the statements of the victims and called for an enquiry. He, however, dismissed the allegations of bias.
“There is a tradition in the jail that before the new entrants are produced before the senior officials, they undergo haircutting and shaving. Muslims and Sikhs are exempted from it. Sometimes some Muslims willingly choose to cut their hair to conceal their identity. The administration plays no role in this. The prison watchmen (monitors) check such things. If anyone (warden) is found guilty I have the judicial power to stop their remission,” he said.
Mr. Desai added that the two men were released the same day their beards were shaved. “They did not raise a protest when we came for the check the same day. I would have taken action had they brought the matter to my knowledge,” he claimed.
Anyway now Suresh Mathur, the Pune police chief, is reported to be mulling a ban on HRS. It might not help bring back Mohsin, still hopefully future thuggery can be averted.
But coming to think of it, can it be? When orchestrating riots has been found to be politically rewarding. There are indeed reports of sporadic violence in parts of Maharashtra, in places like Pune, Naisk, Malegoan and Aurangabad. Interestingly this time around it is about a post allegedly slighting Ambedkar, and VHP goons gone bonkers! VHP feeling hurt over the slighting of Ambedkar! Anything, anything to whip up passions. Innocent on both sides might get killed in the process, but the netas benefit after all.
Not just Godhra, even Muzzafarnagar too turned out to be a gold mine, lynch mobs and arsonists meticulously going about their assigned job, with a feckless government looking on or watching Bollywood heroines gyrate in the ruling family’s native village. Amit Shah had discharged his responsibilities efficiently, and the BJP reaped a rich electoral harvest.
Data from the Union home ministry show that states such as UP, MP, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Bihar saw a steady rise in communal incidents last year, and since the hate-merchants have been voted to power at the Centre.
So why would the parivaar not attempt something similar again in Maharashtra, closer to the state assembly polls?
We are all betting on their need to become ever more respectable, Modi’s particularly. But the new PM is yet to say a word denouncing the killing, though he talked big about protecting the minorities in the Lok Sabha.
Golden silence from the otherwise bombastic hindutva poster boy amounts to conveying consent to his ‘Hindu nationalist’ cronies in his signature manner, so well known an ingredient of his Gujarat model. India is poised to get ‘Gujarated’ as those memes in the social media say.
Luminaries like Sashi Tharoor and Sagarika Ghose conjure up a Modi 2.0 and a 21st century Ashoka in their goodhearted benevolence.
But then not all will benefit. Assumption such as Evil 1.0 was evil but evil 2.0 will be an angel is chimerical. Chandashok (Ashoka the evil) didn’t enjoy and capitalise on Kalinga for a decade to turn into a Bitashoka (Ashoka the repentant). It was genuine remorse.
Even the despairing highway robber Ratnakara’s chant of mara, mara (death and desolation) turned into Rama Rama, catapulting him to salvation, only because he began to chant the word that was haunting him.
So for Indians at large to be better and happier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would have to be truly contrite. But will he ever be? Your guess is as good as mine.
(With inputs from Anvar Rajan of AISF from Pune, Azhar Khan of AISF from Jalgaon, and Narendra Puri of NewsExpress from Nagpur. Yet other Pune friends who helped me with information won’t like to be named – for obvious reasons.)