By Nayonika Bose, Zeeshan Shaikh, Alok Deshpande
Starting November last year, at least 50 ‘Hindu Jan Aakrosh Morcha’ rallies have been held across Maharashtra, in almost all of the state’s 36 districts. Each of these events has followed a set pattern: a brief march through the heart of the city, amid a sea of saffron flags and caps, followed by a short rally, where speakers on a makeshift dais attack minorities, invoke “love jihad”, “land jihad”, “forced conversions”, and call for the economic boycott of the Muslim community.
For the record, the BJP distances itself from these rallies, saying they are by the Sakal Hindu Samaj, an umbrella body of Hindutva and Sangh organisations, but almost all of these events have had the presence of party leaders, including the local BJP MLA and MP. The speeches, however, are largely delivered by right-wing hardliners, including suspended BJP leader and Telangana MLA T Raja Singh, Kalicharan Maharaj and Kajal Hindustani — at least two of them (Singh and Maharaj) face hate speech cases both in the state and elsewhere.
While Singh was suspended by the BJP in August last year for his remarks on Islam and Prophet Mohammed, he is a familiar face at such rallies in Maharashtra. Kalicharan Maharaj, aka Abhijit Dhananjay Sarang, is from Akola in Maharashtra. A proponent of a ‘Hindu Rashtra’, he was arrested in December 2021 for his speech at a dharam sansad in Raipur, where he allegedly hailed Nathuram Godse. Kajal Hindustani, aka Kajal Shingala, is a Gujarat-based Hindutva activist.
At one such rally, at Mumbai’s Mira Road on March 12, speeches were made against “Islamic aggression”, “love jihad” and “land jihad”, with some of the speakers calling for an economic boycott of Muslims.
“There are three major aspects of Islamic aggression. First is love jihad, second comes land jihad and finally there is the problem of conversion… For these…there is a Ram-led solution – one where you will not be stopped by political leaders, the Supreme Court or even the media. That solution is their economic boycott,” said Kajal Hindustani.
A 2-km march that preceded the speeches was flagged off by Geeta Jain, independent MLA from Mira Bhayandar who is supporting the government. The event was attended by BJP MLA Nitesh Rane along with local BJP leaders and members of outfits such as the VHP and Bajrang Dal.
While Maharashtra Police personnel were seen at most of the rallies recording the speeches, no case has been filed against any of the speakers so far. T Raja Singh has been booked twice by the Maharashtra Police for hate speeches in Latur (February) and Ahmednagar (March), but those were at rallies not held under the banner of the ‘Hindu Jan Aakrosh Morcha’.
“As per Supreme Court’s guidelines, we are video recording everything that is being said at these rallies. We then listen to them thoroughly, seek legal advice from appropriate individuals and accordingly legal action is being taken,” said a senior Maharashtra Police officer.
Despite a February 3 directive by the Supreme Court that the Hindu Jan Aakrosh Morcha would only be allowed if there is “no hate speech”, the speeches at these rallies have called Muslims “unpatriotic”, whose “prime aim is to veer Hindu girls away from their religion by converting them to Islam through marriage”…
This story was originally published in indianexpress.com. Read the full story here