28, Feb 2023
A petition floated by the human rights organisation Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), addressed to Eknath Shinde, chief minister of Maharashtra, with a copy to Rajnish Sheth, Director General of Police (DGP), Maharashtra, has expressed alarm over what it calls “dangerous trend of hate-mongering” boding ill for “social harmony” in the State.
Seeking signatures, and based on specific instances, the petition, which has been supported by several prominent citizens* of the State, insists, “There should be zero tolerance for the forces that bank on demonization and stigmatization of sections of our own people and generate divisive sentiments through such hate speech among the State’s polity.”
We, the people of India, are witnessing a dangerous trend of hate-mongering in the State of Maharashtra. Since December 2022, repeat offenders have been actively spreading offensive and provocative speeches that target minorities with acts of violence and discrimination. Sadly, there is only silence from the political and police leadership and this petition urges swift and pre-emptive action.
[ Annexed below are a list of alarming gatherings that have been allowed to take place across the State from December 14, 2022. The organising outfits range from the Hindu Jan Jagran Samiti, Hindu Janagan Morcha, to the Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and not to forget the Antarashtriya Hindu Parishad. The Sudarshan TV chief and a legislator belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from Telangana have also held meetings]
This organised attempt raises the question, why the sudden interest in the State. Is this not part of a design?
Surely, this bodes ill for social harmony in the State.
As the Lok Sabha (Indian Parliament) elections are just 15 months away, and State assembly polls will be held three months after that, we need to act now. To ensure that issues that are placed before the people of Maharashtra relate to social justice, education, jobs and unemployment, inflation, poverty alleviation and the empowerment of girls and women. These are the values that the State of Maharashtra has always stood for. There should be zero tolerance for the forces that bank on demonization and stigmatization of sections of our own people and generate divisive sentiments through such hate speech among the State’s polity. We cannot let this cynical strategy go unchecked.
We call upon all Maharashtrian Indian citizens to demand from their elected representatives and in-charge IPS and IAS officers that they abide by the Oath of Allegiance to the Constitution of India, which is enshrined in Schedule III of the Constitution. This schedule is rarely read but is endearingly candid and simple. Once elected, every elected representative is law bound to uphold the Principles and Values of the Indian Constitution. The same principle under the Third Schedule applies to IAS and IPS officers who don their powerful positions.
For a member of parliament (MP), Minister, Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), State minister the Third Schedule, every IAS or IPS officer [Articles 75(4), 99, 124(6), 148(2), 164(3), 188 and 219], outlines the Oath that is, under the Constitution mandatory:
Whether affirmed in the name of God or the Constitution, the elected representative is legally bound to true faith solemnly affirm and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established and function in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill will. The same principle applies to the IAS and IPS official.
The wordings of the oath for a member/legislator of the State assembly, MLAs as they are known are disarmingly similar and unequivocal. They are sworn not to any arcane hate-filled ideology but to the Constitution and the Constitution alone. Regardless of what their individual ideologies may teach, or their political training preach, once elected it is only the Indian Constitution that matters: equality, non-discrimination and justice for all.
The Form of Oath or Affirmation under the Third Schedule is as follows:
“I, A.B., having been elected (or nominated) a member of the Legislative Assembly (or Legislative Council), do swear in the name of God that solemnly affirm I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, that I will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India and that I will faithfully discharge the duty upon which I am about to enter.”
IAS and IPS officers in the State, holding positions of Collector and Superintendents of Police (SP) in all districts, also swear an oath owing allegiance to the principles laid down in the Indian Constitution.
Sirs, as concerned citizens committed to the rule of law, enshrined within the Indian Constitution, we urge, insist and demand that this Oath is adhered to in letter and spirit.
Citizens for Justice and Peace (cjp.org.in) has been running arguably the most consistent and persistent campaigns, petitioning relentlessly the law enforcement authorities to prevent and prosecute hate-mongers. Sirs, we need to act before it is too late.
As we look at the increasing number of such events being held, it is clear that some organised groups, politically connected, are involved, in a systematic organisation of such events across many districts and carry out rallies and invite speakers known to have delivered hate speeches in the past. Many of the speakers are previous offenders, new wine in old bottles so to speak, delivering shrill homilies of the vision of ‘Hindu Rashtra’ (a notion that is itself fundamentally anti-Constitutional), distorting and manipulating history to further stigmatize, target, and incite violence against the Muslim community; Christians too have not been spared.
The signatories in this petition urge and demand of our political representatives that You and Others follow the Oath they have Sworn under the Indian Constitution.
We must also ensure that a copy reaches the elected representatives in our areas, especially where such events have either been planned or have already taken place, and demand that these MPs and MLAs, the SPs, and the Collector honor the Oath of Allegiance to the Constitution. Let us do our part to ensure that social harmony prevails in Maharashtra, and that the Indian Constitution is upheld.
As Chief Minister of the State it is your special responsibility to protect all lives and properties and maintain social harmony at any cost. As the highest level police officer, upholding Constitutional principles is a bounden duty, Sir.
- Any such events by previous hate offender organisations and individuals are prohibited under law
- That in incidents that have occurred and inciteful and provocative speeches have seebeen made since December 2022 (listed below), there is a high-level impartial probe and swift prosecution
Recent incidents of hate in Maharashtra:
On February 15, 2023, in Panvel, members of Hindu Janjagruti Samiti held a public procession and raised slogans of Hindu Rashtra and made calls for laws against ‘love jihad’. They also raised slogans of “Hang Love jihadis”. They repeatedly raised these slogans amidst a busy street.
On February 19, 2023, in Latur, BJP MLA from Telangana, T Raja Singh, made explicit calls for violence and killing of Muslims only so that a Hindu nation can be established. The speech was made in the presence of thousands on the occasion of birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Many speakers are previous offenders, distorting and manipulating history to incite violence against Muslim community
On February 15, 2023, in Pune, Suresh Chavhanke was speaking at an event celebrating “Asaram Bapu divas” he stressed on the importance of keeping weapons and falsely claimed that the Constitution allows you to keep weapons. He said we have phones but nobody has weapons for self-defence. He added, “in the coming days the situation that is going to arise, you should think about it.
On February 14, 2023 (Valentine’s Day) Bajrang Dal members held a rally in Nagpur, Maharashtra, and conducted a mass recitation of the Hanuman Chalisa at the Durga Mata Temple in the Sadar area to protest against Valentine’s Day. The rally ended at Samvidhan Square, where tributes were paid to the CRPF personnel killed in a terror attack in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir, on February 14, 2019.
On February 11, 2023, at a Hindu Janakrosh Meet held in Khamgaon, Buldhana, Pravin Togadia, President of Antarashtriya Hindu Parishad, said that those who bent before the Mughals were coward Muslim and those who didn’t were sons of Chhatrapati Sambhaji. He further said that we have the power to rule over the entire world, not just Bharat.
On February 12, 2023 members of Sakal Hindu Samaj assembled at a Ram Mandir in Aarey Colony in Mumbai, to carry out a rally till Marol. While Aarey Police did not allow them to carry out the rally, the speakers, assembled at the Ram Mandir Shriraj Nair, Mohan Salekar elaborated on how they “are committed to stop the construction of the cemetery at any cost and appealed to Hindus to remain united”. The protest morcha was being held against the alleged construction of a Muslim burial ground (kabrastan) near Ram Mandir.
On February 9, 2023 Kalicharan Maharaj again spoke at Hindu Jangarjana Morcha, this time at Baramati Pune. He said Muslim want to convert everyone into Muslim because those who are not Muslims are kaafirs and it is written in Quran that you should kill a Kaafir. “I am kaafir which means I am eligible to be killed (by them),” he said. He said, “wives of kaafirs are stolen property and one woman being raped by 50 men is not a big deal.” He again repeated the same speech that he had made in Nandurbar about women raped in Kashmir and told his audience to watch the movie “Kashmir Files”. Citizens for Justice and Peace had filed a complaint seeking preventive action against this event with the DGP, Maharashtra as well Baramati Police and a memo was also sent to Baramati MP, Supriya Sule. However, no such preventive action was taken and nor was Kalicharan booked by the police for his publicly made hate speech.
On February 6, 2023 Kalicharan Maharaj spoke at an event organized by Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Nandurbar where he said, “Muslims are prepared. When mosques and Madrassas are raided, swords, AK-47 and RDX are recovered. If temples are raided are any guns or swords ever recovered?” He then went on make wild and baseless claims that in Kashmir about 30 years ago, 5 lakh women were gang raped. He said if we are not prepared, this will become Kashmir. He then said that lakhs of temples were destroyed and Qutubuddin destroyed Kashi Vishweshwar temple and urinated on the shivling and built a mosque there. He went on to distort history by claiming Muslim kings destroyed many temples across India to build mosques.
On January 30, 2023 at Parbhani, a rally was organized by Sakal Hindu Samaj in Mumbai called ‘Hindu Jan Aakrosh Morcha’ (rally for Hindu people’s fury). The rally, purportedly organized against ‘love jihad’ and ‘land jihad’, ended with a provocative speech by Goshamahal MLA T Raja Singh calling for a boycott of Muslim owned businesses and for Hindus to ‘slit throats’ this Morcha has originated from Parbhani in Marathwada region from November last year and several such rallies organized across over 20 districts in Maharashtra, including Parbhani, Nanded, Ahmednagar, Kolhapur, Gadchiroli, Satara, Karad, Sangli, Solapur, Pune, Dhule, Jalgaon, Nagpur, Amravati, Hingoli, Buldhana, and Jalna. Along with ‘love-jihad’ the other issue that the protest tried to foreground was an odd concept called ‘land-jihad’.
On January 22, 2023 at an event held at Nagar, Maharashtra, Suresh Chavhanke delivered another anti-Muslim hate speech. He instigated people to go against the Supreme Court by administering the oath to establish the Hindu nation with him. The video starts with Suresh Chavhanke shouting “Kon chale re kon chale? Hindu Rashtra ke liye Chale (What should we go for? Let’s go for a Hindu Rashtra).” “Arre lana hoga lana hoga, Hindu Rashtra lana hoga (We have to bring in, we have to bring in a Hindu rashtra.)”
He then spoke in Marathi and said: “Should I speak in Marathi? Pigs don’t understand Marathi, so I will speak in Hindi sometimes”.
He added, “Safaed chaddar par chadhaya gaya har rupaya tumhare safaed kaffan ki vyavastha karega, savdhaan reh jao. (Every rupee offered on a white sheet will arrange for your white shroud, be careful.)”
On January 13, 2023, at a Shaurya Path Sanchalan event, held in Boisar, Maharashtra, Senior Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Shankar Gaikar made a hate speech making reference to the past Mughal and Maratha leaders of India and also the history of Islam while making hateful statements. Referring to Bajrang Dal’s stick he said that it will be sued against those “who work against the nation, insult Bharat Mata, wield a sword on the chest of Mother India and use a knife. This stick will be useful for that purpose.)”
He further said, “No one has the power to take away the daughter of a Hindu. Keep in mind that the bitterness is in their blood. Hindu is never cruel, Hindu is always angry, and he fights from the front.” Further referring to the Muslim community he said, “they have a tradition of cruelty for thousands of years”.
On January 7, 2022 over a dozen graves and crosses were desecrated at St Michael Church graveyard in Mumbai.
On December 25, 2022 Sudarshan News Editor-in-Chief was speaking at Hindu Janajagruti Samiti event held in Jalgaon, Maharashtra. Continuing his Islamophobic trope he said, “From Jalgaon to Khandwa if you take a train, you can see land has been captured, ‘Land jihad’ has occurred. It feels like the train is passing through Pakistan.” Further he started referring to Christians as it was Christmas day and said, “There are 2% Christians in India, at least the ones who tell their real names, leave aside the fake ones. The festival of these 2% is being imposed on the 98% people.”
Then he spoke to Buddhists as well, giving them examples of Myanmar, “I want to say to the Buddhists of India to learn something from Buddhists of Myanmar. They kicked out and chased away the Rohingyas from their country. They said your Jihad will not work in our country.”
On December 14, 2022, at another Hindu Jan Aakrosh Morcha’ held in Ahmednagar, Hate offender Kalicharan Maharaj made false claims about cases of ‘love jihad’ presenting them as facts and also propagated black magic and superstition by suggesting remedies for ‘love jihad’. He even warned his audience that Christianity and Islam are “not religions”, and that Muslims have an “800-year-old plan” – the Ghazwa-e-Hind – to “convert India into a country of Muslims”.
*Prominent signatories: Javed Akhtar, Kumar Ketkar, Tushar Gandhi, Bishop Allwyn D’Silva, Ratna Pathak Shah, Chitra Palekar, Teesta Setalvad, Javed Anand, Nikhil Wagle, Anand Patwardhan, Shakuntala Kulkarni, Ramdas Bhatkal, Frazer Mascarenhas, Ravindra Ambekar, Flavia Agnes, Geeta Seshu, Brinelle D’souza, Shama Dalwai, Mona Ambegaonkar, Alka Dhupkar, Feroze Mithiborwala, Dilip D’Souza, Lara Jesani, Bilal Khan, Prashant Sawardekar, Ashok Kumar Pandey, Sukla Sen
The original piece may be read here