They say cowardice, violence and murder are an integral part of Godse’s Hindutva thinking. The lynching of Muslims is also the result of this thinking
NEW DELHI — Amidst a renewed wave of violent hate crimes against Muslims in the country, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat has said that those indulging in lynching are against Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) and called such people “oppressors”.
“If a Hindu says that no Muslim should live here, then that person is not a Hindu. Cow is a holy animal but the people who are lynching others in the name of cow protection are going against Hindutva. Law should take its own course against these oppressors without any partiality,” Bhagwat, the head of the parent body of Sangh Parivar was quoted by Deccan Herald as speaking at an event organised by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch titled ‘Hindustan First, Hindustani First’ in Ghaziabad, UP.
The event witnessed the launch of a book called “The Meeting of Minds” by Khwaja Iftikhar Ahmed.
While acknowledging the problem of lynching, Bhagwat insisted that some cases are false. In 2019, he had said that lynching was a ‘western phenomenon’ that was being invoked in India to defame Hindus.
Lynching has a long history in India but since 2014, as the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed power, the mob violence by supporters of Hindutva targetting Muslim minorities has seen a renewed impetus. Ordinary Muslims are attacked and ruthlessly beaten to death over petty issues by men from extremist groups.
The pandemic has failed to bridge the communal divisions as is evident that with the recession of the second wave of Covid-19, there has been a sharp spike in incidents of mob violence targeting Muslims. These also include a number of incidents of lynching of Muslims.
The comments of RSS chief come at a time when the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are inching closer and parties are gearing up to woo the voters.
Baghwat said that the idea of Hindu-Muslim unity in India is “misleading” as he claimed that they are one entity and appealed to Muslims to give up the fear that Islam is in danger in India.
“Hindu-Muslim unity is misleading as they’re not different, but one. DNA of all Indians are the same, irrespective of religion,” Bhagwat said.
“We are in a democracy. There can’t be a dominance of Hindus or Muslims. There can only be the dominance of Indians.”
The RSS chief’s remarks evoked mixed reactions from opposition politicians, Muslims community leaders, Netizens and civil society groups.
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said if Bhagwat is true to his words, then he must tell the Modi government to remove all those BJP leaders from their posts who “harass” Muslims. But this will not happen, Singh added, because there is a difference between actions and words.
Singh also asked the RSS chief whether he will pass on these views that those asking Indian Muslims to migrate to Pakistan to his “disciples, preachers, Vishwa Hindu Parishad/Bajrang Dal workers also? Will you pass on these teachings to Modi-Shah ji and BJP chief ministers also?”
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi responded to Baghwat saying that his attempts to distance Hindutva from those who indulge in lynching is not right. “These criminals would not know the difference between cow and buffalo but the names of Junaid, Akhlaq, Pehlu, Rakbar, Alimuddin were enough to kill,” Owaisi said. “This hatred is the product of Hindutva. These criminals have the backbone of the Hindutva government.
“Cowardice, violence and murder are an integral part of Godse’s Hindutva thinking. The lynching of Muslims is also the result of this thinking,” the AMIM president said concluding his thread of tweets in response to the remarks of Sangh Parivar supremo.
Navaid Hamid, who heads All India Muslim Majlise Mashawarat, the amalgam of Muslim groups in India, termed Baghwat’s statements on lynching “too little too late”.
“Mohan Baghwat commands respect among the top leaders of the current regime. His words are valued. He should walk the talk and ask the government to enact an anti-lynching legislation that we have been demanding for years,” Hamid said while speaking with Clarion India.
He echoed the sentiments of Digvijay Singh on RSS chief’s migration to Pakistan remark. “If Bhagwat is sincere, then those BJP leaders who ask Muslims to migrate to Pakistan should be sacked,” he said.