Rajasthan hacking: Indians donating Rs 3 lakh to killer’s wife is disturbing

The state may be able to control violence, but not the hatred spreading in the name of 'love jihad' and 'gau raksha'.

 |  5-minute read |   14-12-2017
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Ironically at a time the Rajasthan government is celebrating four years in office, the fire that Shambhu Lal Regar started in Rajasthan's Rajsamand seems to be spreading slowly. Tension is palpable in Udaipur district that adjoins Rajsamand, where Regar hacked and then set ablaze Mohammed Afrazul, a migrant labourer from West Bengal, on the pretext of "love jihad".

To prevent this communal fire from spreading, the state administration has swiftly imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in the area. A 24-hour ban on internet services has also been clamped down to control the sharing of inflammatory messages and videos. There have been rallies and counter-rallies, speeches and counter-speeches, allegations and counter-allegations, all imbued in hate emanating from vicious ideologies in Udaipur that have forced the administration into action.

According to an India Today report, speeches targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and certain religious and social organisations were made in Udaipur, the videos of which were widely circulated. The Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha also took out a rally on the occasion of the government's anniversary. The event was marked by incendiary sloganeering, the videos of which have gone viral too. The state administration is trying to control the spreading of hate messages after allowing hate itself to go viral.

State complicity?

As in most such cases of trouble spread through sharing and forwarding of hate messages, it will be difficult to nab the real miscreants, but what can't be ruled out is the complicity of the administration, which is guilty of remaining silent. This silence has pretty unequivocally made clear the government's allegiance with hate-mongers and right-wing bloodthirsty hooligans, who kill and maim in the name of "love jihad" and "gau raksha".

It is appalling that chief minister Vasundhara Raje has not spoken one word against the killing of Afrazul so far. It is important for leaders to reach out to the masses when turmoil is brewing and an upheaval in society imminent. Their words are both succour for the aggrieved that justice will be done, and warning for miscreants that lawlessness will not be allowed to become a norm. But Raje has spoken through her silence, emboldening the killers and supporters of killings in the name of religious and nationalistic ideologies.

Rewarding a murderer

Afrazul's killing is a tragedy at so many levels. When the incident occurred, many heaved a sigh of relief saying the murder wasn't related to "love jihad", but was fallout of a love triangle. Does that make Afrazul's killing any less brutal? Of course, not. The clean chit to "love jihad" was perhaps an attempt to free the dangerous Hindutva politics, which has now unleashed its most ugly face in the country, from blame. It is now clear that the clean chit came far too quickly.

According to a report published in The Indian Express, 516 people from across India have donated Rs 3 lakh to Shambhu Lal Regar's wife. Yes, Regar and not Afrazul. The money was donated to an account in the name of Regar's wife, Sita. The account has been frozen by the Rajasthan Police. It is scary to imagine how many more would have come out to contribute towards this cause of killing.

"The police crackdown followed an alert that a message was being circulated on social media with details of the bank account, and an appeal seeking donations for Regar's family," the report said.

No punishment is harsh enough for a man who makes another man bleed through a hundred wounds and then sets him on fire - no matter what the grievance. But here we are ensuring that the likes of Regar flourish and multiply.

Even more shameful and horrendous is the fact that some of the contributors owned up to their complicity in greasing the engines of hate. "The police have also arrested two businessmen for allegedly circulating images on social media of receipts acknowledging their donations to the account," the report says.

Not without a precedent

When Ravi Sisodia, accused of killing Mohammad Akhlaq over allegations of killing and eating cow in 2015 in Uttar Pradesh's Dadri, died of a lung infection in 2016, his body was wrapped in the national flag.

According to Section 5 of the Flag Code of India, "The flag shall not be used as a drapery in any form whatsoever except in state/military/central paramilitary forces funerals herein after provided... the flag shall not be used as a drapery in any form whatsoever, including private funerals... the flag shall not be draped over the hood, top, sides or back of a vehicle, train or boat."

This blatant disrespect for the national flag was flaunted with complete impunity sending out a message that nationalism is now a tool to kill, loot and subjugate the "others". No leader, worth his salt, uttered a word to condemn this insult to the democratic, secular republic of India. BJP MLA Sangeet Som instead made clear which side of the divide the state was on by visiting the houses of the murder accused.

A year down the line, funds for Regar's family come almost on a cue from the Dadri lynching. The administration in Rajasthan and other states where the seeds of communal divides have been germinated may successfully control large-scale violence from spreading (the state always can, provided it intends to) but the mutual hatred breeding and flourishing among communities that place identities before lives is now officially out of control.

If murders come with rewards, we must all run for cover. The sordid tragedy is that there is no place for us to hide.

Also read: Gujarat Assembly elections: 9 things I learnt from the campaign battlefield

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