Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on Sunday said that no person identifying as a Hindu could seek the expulsion of Muslims from India, reported The Times of India.
“We are in a democracy,” Bhagwat said at an event organised by Muslim Rashtriya Manch, a unit of the RSS. “There can’t be dominance of Hindus or Muslims. There can only be dominance of Indians. If a Hindu says that no Muslim should live here, then the person is not Hindu.”
Bhagwat began his speech saying that he was not attending the event for any image makeover or for vote bank politics.
However, he said that the cow was a holy animal for Hindus, but those involved in lynchings were “going against Hindutva”, according to The Times of India. “Law should take its own course against them without any partiality,” he added.
The RSS chief also spoke about Hindus and Muslims in the country.
“Hindu-Muslim unity is misleading as they are not different, but one,” he said, according to PTI. “DNA of all Indians are same, irrespective of religion.”
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi criticised Bhagwat on Monday for his statement about lynchings. “Cowardice, violence and murder are an integral part of [Nathuram] Godse’s Hindutva thinking,” he said. “The lynching of Muslims is also the result of this thinking.”
In a series of tweets, Owaisi said that the criminals engaging in violence against Muslims could not tell the difference between cows and buffaloes, but the names of the victims were enough for them to commit murder.
“This hatred is the result of Hindutva,” he said. “These criminals have the support of a Hindutva government.”
The AIMIM chief spoke about several incidents of mob violence against Muslims by cow vigilantes over the past few years. He also noted the involvement of Bharatiya Janata Party leaders in supporting the accused.
“Alimuddin’s killers are garlanded at the hands of a Union minister, the national flag is laid over the body of Akhlaq’s killer, a mahapanchayat is convened in support of the killers of Asif, where a BJP spokesperson asks ‘can we not even commit murder?’” Owaisi tweeted.
The AIMIM leader was referring to an incident in 2017, in which cattle trader Alimuddin Ansari was lynched in Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand. Former Union minister Jayant Sinha had triggered a controversy by garlanding eight men convicted of attacking and lynching cattle Ansari.
In 2018, Rakbar Khan was also lynched by a mob on suspicion of cow smuggling in Rajasthan.
In 2015, 50-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched on suspicion of possessing beef in Dadri near Noida in Uttar Pradesh. Two years later, dairy farmer Pehlu Khan was killed on suspicions of cattle smuggling by cow vigilantes on the Jaipur-Delhi national highway.
On Monday, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh also hit out at Bhagwat for his comments. “Mohan Bhagwat ji, will you give this idea to your disciples, preachers, Vishwa Hindu Parishad/Bajrang Dal workers also?” he asked, asking if he would do the same for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Bharatiya Janata Party chief ministers also.