After murders in the name of gau raksha, we now have murder as a performance against interfaith relationships. The horrific video of a Rajasthan man hacking with an axe, then pouring kerosene on another man, a Muslim worker native to Malda in West Bengal, is not just a clip shot in the sly by a bystander, but is about someone acting it out for the camera. It's pretty much about sending out a message, one of Hindutva's unlimited majoritarian impunity and the imagined licence to kill members of the minority community, now over the idea of interfaith sex.
In Rajasthan's Rajsamand area, about five hours from the capital Jaipur, a man - a Hindu, identified as Shambhulal Raigar - has not only committed a gruesome hate crime, but he has displayed the audacity of recording the video of his killing the victim, a migrant worker called Mohammad Afrazul, in order to further the Hindutva lie, the fake narrative of so-called "love jihad". As is the case with earlier videos of lynching, for example of the dairy farmer Pehlu Khan, Shambhulal's video of the murder followed by his hate speech, justifying the act, too went "viral" on WhatsApp.
Shambhulal has now been arrested by the Rajasthan Police, according to reports, and booked under IPC Section 302, among other sections, but Rajasthan home minister Gulab Chand Kataria calling the incident "shocking" is simply laughable. For it was none other than Kataria who had said that victims of cow vigilantism are as much in the wrong as the marauding murderers who kill in the name of cow protection. Pehlu Khan's murderers walk free today, since despite the viral video, evidence against the majority community members committing hate crimes against members of minority communities is never quite enough.
Legitimising 'love jihad'
How the Rajsamand Islamophobic hate crime is being reported is as much a part of this climate of enforced minority criminality in the eyes of the majority community and its institutions as the crime itself. For example, The Times of India put out a tweet that read "Reprisal for Love Jihad?", as a matter of fact, without even the liberal sleight-of-hand that puts the phrase in quotes, emphasising and ironising its maniacal, paranoid absurdity, questioning it while mentioning it.
Reprisal for love jihad? Man kills labourer, sets body on fire in Rajasthan https://t.co/A5xFA5QyXU via @TOICitiesNews pic.twitter.com/rMrA2IHpDY— Times of India (@timesofindia) December 7, 2017
Similarly, other TV channels have reported the matter without questioning the phrase "love jihad" itself, taking it for granted, accepting the meaning as the peddlers of Hindutva would have it.
A man burnt alive allegedly for committing love jihad in Rajasthan's Rajsamand. The attacker filmed the act which was later put on social media & warned those involved in alleged love-jihad will meet similar fate. The accused has been arrested, Rajasthan HM confirms to CNN-News18 pic.twitter.com/QrRXS4phAr— News18 (@CNNnews18) December 7, 2017
"Love jihad" is a euphemism for Hindutva's deep antipathy towards interfaith sexual relationships, particularly interfaith marriage. The antipathy is now an apology for daylight murders. When media platforms, commentators, political analysts, editors, members of the Opposition start using the phrase without drawing attention to its utter fakeness, to the manufactured nature of the narrative, then the hate crime committed in the name of action against "love jihad" finds its own sickened justification mirrored everywhere. The murderer is just going the extra length of preventing "love jihad" by taking the law in his own hands, for his bigotry, he knows, is the new law.
And what happens when even the highest court of the land decides to bring in an outsider in the form of an investigative agency all too compromised to "probe" an "alleged case of love jihad"? Why in the name of "protecting a woman", would the Supreme Court suspend her fundamental right to religion, prevent an adult female citizen of the country from being with a man of her choice?
While in the case of Hadiya, the language is couched in the narrative of safeguarding the woman by incarcerating her within the judiciary's ridiculous inability to keep up with India's Constitution, and its living, breathing spirit, in the case of Mohammad Afrazul - a horrifying death accompanied by an inflammatory speech justifying the murder is the end.
Chief ministers of BJP-ruled states, including Rajasthan, have legitimised the imagined criminality of "love jihad" - the very phrase that shows how Islamophobia is normalised. By "banning" and/or postponing the yet unreleased film - Padmavati - in which an alleged dream sequence of interfaith romance between the Hindu queen and the Muslim "invader" became the peg on which the "love jihad" narrative was hung, Vasundhara Raje, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Vijay Rupani, among others, have all amplified the fake narrative.
Here, offence has been taken to an imagined crime politicised for maximum telegenic mileage, and now, in Rajasthan, Mohammad Afrazul has been killed in its very name.
Mainstreaming the term "jove jihad" in the lexicon, implicit criminalization of miscegnation (and all it implies racially) b/w Hindus and Muslims, beatings, burnings and lynchings by KKK type activists sans hoods.Such close parallels to Racial Segregation pre-1967.— Narasinga (@syrinje) December 7, 2017
Who's responsible for brainwashing Shambhulal Raigar, that he's ready to kill to prevent "love jihad" and readily own up as well, victorious, confident, unapologetic? Aren't CM Raje, CM Chouhan, CM Rupani, CM Adityanath complicit in this hate crime since they augmented the narrative echo of the bigotry that's resulted in Afrazul's horrific murder?
Aren't the TV channels organising the daily verbal lynching of minorities on their prime time shows complicit in snuffing Afrazul's life out?
Aren't irresponsible headlines from so-called liberal English and Hindi media - such as the tweet from The Times of India - as much to blame for normalising everyday insanity, cruelty, building up majoritarian wrath against members of the minority communities? Have we all become versions of Rwandan hate radios ourselves?
Whether it's the nature of meat for which Dadri's Akhlaq was killed in 2015, the shape of clothes and facial hair for which 16-year-old Junaid was stabbed to death on a train, rearing and transporting cows that got Pehlu Khan murdered, and now allegations of "love jihad" that took away Afrazul's life - is this what being a male Muslim in India inevitably about?
Every institution, TV anchor, op-ed writer, editor, chief minister, Hindutva ideologue, BJP leader, poll strategist, social media handler that contributed to expanding the dominion of the fatal, targeted falsehood that's "love jihad", is a criminal today, abettor to violent crimes in the name of sickening puritanical bloodshed, crimes that have disemboweled the law itself, spitting at the Constitution.