Representative image. Photo: Reuters

By Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar / The Wire

New Delhi: As hatred against Muslims takes centre stage in the BJP-ruled Karnataka, yet again the state capital, Bengaluru, has become witness to another round of abuses hurled at the minority community by a Hindutva outfit recently.

On May 8, speakers at Bengaluru District Hindu Rashtra Convention described Muslims as “cancer” who are “taking over the country like a disease” in front of a gathering of 300 people at BBMP Community Hall in Rajaji Nagar, Bengaluru.

The convention and hate speeches came to light after one Zia Nomani lodged a complaint at Sanjaya Nagara police station on May 16 stating that “multiple speakers engaged in speech and expression which directly attracts Sections 153A, 153B, 295A and 505(2) of the Indian Penal Code”. It was Nomani who had earlier filed a complaint against Hindu Janajagruti Samiti’s Chandru Moger after he had issued a call at the beginning of April to Hindus to boycott Muslim fruit vendors while accusing them of “spit jihad”. Moger is yet to be arrested even though an FIR is registered against him.

The complaint against Moger was filed by Law and Policy Research Institute with legal aid from Campaign Against Hate Speech.

According to Nomani, the latest convention too “witnessed discussions that reeked of bigotry and violence in the heart of Bengaluru”. The speeches made at the convention are uploaded onto Hindu Janajagruti Samiti Karnataka Twitter page.

The complainant lamented that police inaction in Moger’s case was emboldening right-wing groups in the state to organise such conventions, calling for Hindu Rashtra, with impunity.

Referring to the speech by the spokesperson of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, Mohan Gowda, as “criminal speech”, Nomani quoted the former as saying, “They (while referring to the entire Muslim community) are taking over our country like a disease. For one Hindu child, there are five Muslim children. Yet Muslims are the minority. That is why we have organised this meeting to make people aware that we need a Hindu Rashtra.”

In his latest complaint, Nomani said that speakers at the May 8 convention explained to the gathering the terms bandied out by Hindutva groups such as “land jihad”, “economic jihad” and “love jihad”. He said the speakers also spoke about why loudspeakers should be banned (in mosques) and why India should become a country for Hindus, in a clear case of whipping up passions.

According to Nomani, G.M. Nataraj, a lawyer and a speaker at the convention, had said, “Muslims counter that they play it (azaan) only for five minutes. But it is not just a call to prayer. It is a call from mosques for every Muslim to wake up and pray and resolve that they will kill others.”

Nataraj had further said, “When a Hindu hears such a call, they get scared. Hindu families near mosques get palpitations and panic when they hear the azaan playing loudly because they know it is asking Muslims to kill Hindus.”

Referring to a speech by S. Bhaskaran, president of Vishwa Sanatan Parishad, Nomani, in his complaint, said he had “spoken about ‘land jihad’, and how Muslims are taking over the property from Hindus”. It added that “before talking about ‘land jihad’, a term commonly used by right-wing groups to describe a conspiracy by Muslims to take over neighbourhoods”. Bhaskaran had also said “Muslims are like cancer”, according to the complaint.

Nomani then goes on to describe that, in response to Bhaskaran’s speech, a member in the audience shouted loudly saying “ghar main ghuske maarenge, mulle ko nahin chodenge (We will enter their homes and beat them, won’t spare a single Muslim)”. The complainant said the speeches indeed amounted to propagating communal hatred and hence attracted various sections under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Chandru Moger’s case

Speaking to The Wire about Moger’s case, Nomani has said that the police are yet to arrest him even though Bengaluru Police had registered an FIR against him after directions from 8th Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate. Nomani had lodged a complaint with police against Moger after the latter issued a call for boycotting Muslim fruit vendors.

Consequent to the directions from the court, the police registered a case against Moger under Sections 153A, 503, 504, 505 (2) of IPC. These sections pertain to among other things promoting hatred against religious communities and spreading false alarming news and rumours. The police have been directed to submit a report on the matter to the court by July 30.

Nomani said while the offence against Moger was cognisable, the police did not arrest him yet. He wondered if the police had at least questioned Moger in the matter.

The complainant also accused police of harassing him instead of investigating Moger’s conduct. He said police inquired about him from his neighbour.

“They asked where do I work, when do I come home and what is my job profile. I then approached DCP North and complained that the police are trying to intimidate me. He said we will look into it,” said Nomani.

He said the police’s “inaction” in Moger’s case had only emboldened Hindutva groups in the state – by giving them free-run to hold conventions like the one organised on May 8 to hurl abuses at Muslims and raise slogans for Hindu Rashtra.

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