Spike in anti-Muslim rallies since BJP retook India’s Maharashtra (Al Jazeera)

The recent Ram Navami festival was the latest concerted attempt to ignite religious tensions in India’s richest state.

Hate Watch


Mumbai, India – The route was no coincidence.

On March 30, nearly 5,000 people poured into the streets of north Mumbai to participate in a procession celebrating the Hindu festival of Ram Navami, which marks the birth of the god, Ram.

For about three hours, the procession passed through Muslim neighbourhoods, blaring incendiary songs of Hindu supremacy, waving saffron flags and provocatively chanting “Jai Shri Ram” (Hail Lord Ram, the Hindu right wing’s war cry).

Young and old danced to the high-decibel speakers mounted on a truck, playing “Bharat ka bachcha bachcha, Jai Shri Ram bolega” (Every child in India will be compelled to say Hail Lord Ram).

Mumbai hate rally
Children at the rally held in Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra [Parth MN/Al Jazeera]

An elderly Muslim security guard, watching the procession pass through Malad, said he had not seen such a display of supremacy in years. He was among the many Muslims Al Jazeera spoke to who did not want to reveal their identities for fear of a backlash.

“You don’t have to belittle or disrespect other religions while celebrating your festival,” he said. “It is particularly humiliating to witness it during the month of Ramadan. The music gets louder and people get aggressive, especially while passing by a mosque or through a Muslim area. It is provocative.”

And that is exactly what happened a couple of hours later. The procession slowed down and the volume of the speakers was increased as it reached a mosque where Muslims were offering their evening prayers.

The situation got tense when some Muslims complained about their prayers being disrupted. A row broke out between the two communities and stones were pelted.

The police say they arrested nearly two dozen people for allegedly throwing stones. The official version of the incident says a Muslim man threw a stone at the participants in the Ram Navami rally after his request to lower the volume was rejected.

But the residents of Malad say they were at the receiving end of aggression by the Hindu marchers

This story was originally published in aljazeera.com. Read the full story here


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