The recent period has seen a series of events, where bulldozers were used in Muslim areas. This started in Khargone in Madhya Pradesh and later in Jehangirpuri in Delhi. Both of these follow a similar pattern. The Hindu mobs enter the Muslim locations on the pretext of yatra either Ram Navami or Hanuman Jayanti. The mobs instead of going to temples on a festive occasion enter the Muslim locations filled with hate and with the clear intention of displaying aggression, verbal abuse. Swords and sticks form part of these processions. They enter mosque, abuse the minorities and have the clear intention to attack mosque and hoist saffron flag. The police do not react to the display of aggression and hate. Once a reaction comes by the other side for self-protection, they are targeted in the name of stone pelters and rioters. Saffron social media and godi media propagate that the ‘Muslim’ residents were stone pelters, rioters who attacked the ‘peaceful’ Shobha yatris.
Bulldozers enter the areas without legal clearance and permission and destroy the location both houses and small enterprises. Justification also sought to be given for the destruction is that these are illegal settlements, which need to be cleared. Secondly, that the administration wants to be uncompromising in dealing with rioters. The houses targeted are not just that of Muslims but of poor residents who eke out a living through activities such as street vending, a small kirana shop or offer wage work to the urban enterprises and residents. The display of hate has elements of both anti-muslim and anti-poor built DNA built into it. Among those who are booked for rioting and stone pelting are those whose hands have been lost.
Is the ‘bulldozer’ raj an extended form of displaying hate towards the minorities? Is it a new template for the times to come to ‘show them their place’, the often used saffron dictum. How many such ‘bulldozing’ incidents likely to happen across the country as each of the BJP representatives compete to display their own act of ‘bulldozing’ minority and poor residential locations and rejoice from the incidents.
Bulldozing followed by false propaganda on the lines of ‘we’ need to be protected by the ‘other’ and hence the importance of bulldozing will be brought by large sections of middle class who have lost touch with reality. This polarising on ‘we’ and the ‘other’ attacks the very basis of human existence. Hence it is not surprising when a large chunk of people poisoned by hate rejoice the act of destruction and believe that this act is justified and that their place need to be shown meaning no reaction to any act of aggression and abuse even for defence is acceptable.
The legal action such as that of Advocates Dushyant Dave and Prashant Bhushan to stop such incidents is important in the short run. For period to come, there is a need for action for ‘human awakening’ to counter ‘Hindu awakening’ being pursued by saffron forces. ‘Human awakening’ has its own version of ‘we’ and ‘other’. However, in this ‘we’ and ‘other’ the ‘we’ is represented by those who believe in love & harmony and the ‘other’ who polarise society on the basis of religion. Mobilization for ‘human awakening’ is perhaps needed to counter ‘Hindu awakening’ or any other form of jingoism.
T Navin is an independent writer