Communal politics

Bihar: Muslim journalist forced to say ‘Jai Shri Ram’ to stop saffron-clad mob from torching his car

In an account for the BBC, NDTV’s Munne Bharti said suspected Bajrang Dal members targeted his family as they were wearing attire indicative of their community.

A Muslim man and his family were forced to say “Jai Shri Ram” by a group of members they believe belonged to the Bajrang Dal in Bihar after they threatened to set the family’s car on fire if they did not oblige, reported BBC. The incident took place on June 28.

Munne Bharti, a journalist with NDTV, was traveling with his parents, wife and two children from Karneji village in Vaishali district of Bihar to Raheemabad village in Samastipur. On reaching the Muzaffarpur National Highway 28, the man noticed a major jam near the toll booth. He noticed a truck, parked in the middle of the highway, blocking the path of the commuters. When he asked a passerby about the reason for the jam, the youth warned him to go back, saying their car would be set on fire by members of the Bajrang Dal.

Scared about the safety of his family, the man started to turn his car when he noticed four to five people dressed in saffron clothes, armed with bamboo sticks, walking towards his car. The men peeped inside the car, noticed his bearded father and veiled wife, and started chanting Jai Shri Ram and thumping their sticks on the ground. The men then shouted “Say Jai Shri Ram or we will burn you down”.

The man said he and his family, scared for their lives, chanted “Jai Shri Ram” and were allowed to leave the spot by the purported Bajrang Dal members. The man later took to Twitter to inform Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar about the incident.

Vitriolic climate

On Saturday, President Pranab Mukherjee had raised the matter of the spate in violent lynchings across the country, which have largely targeted Muslims. “We should ponder about this country when we see someone being lynched,” Mukherjee had said during his address in a reference to the number of cow-related atrocities across the country. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has been criticised for doing very little to curb the increasing number of such incidents across the country.

On Thursday, Modi had, after remaining silent on the matter for months, condemned the killings in the name of cow worship. His comments were followed by that of Congress leader and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who said that some people are “spreading negative influence in the name of religion”.

On June 28, thousands of citizens across the country took to the streets to protest against the recent lynching of Muslims and other incidents of communal and caste-based violence. The latest in this string of incidents is the killing of a young Muslim boy aboard a local train to Ballabhgarh, Haryana, on June 22. Junaid was travelling home after Eid shopping in Delhi with some friends and relatives. A group of men made communal remarks about him and his companions after they refused to give up their seats for them. The men then assaulted them, and Junaid died as a result of the injuries he had sustained.

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