Amid Pandemic, Fanatic Groups Are Carrying Out Rallies Against Blasphemy, Announcing ‘Jail Bharo’ Campaign, Raising Beheading Slogans

Amid Pandemic, Fanatic Groups Are Carrying Out Rallies Against Blasphemy, Announcing ‘Jail Bharo’ Campaign, Raising Beheading SlogansA still from a rally in bareilly
Snapshot
  • Such events have been largely ignored by big media.

Three days ago, a large crowd gathered at the famous Ajmer Sharif Dargah in protest of ‘blasphemy’. The dargah, where lies the grave of Persian ‘Sufi’ Muslim preacher Khwaja Moinuddin Chisty, had been declared closed until 30 April a few days earlier.

At a time when state governments are struggling to control crowds, the dargah management called the crowd to save the honour of their Prophet, in their own words.

Watch a clip of the rally below:

Visuals of the protest have been widely circulated on social media. Thousands are seen raising slogans of ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ‘Naara-e-Takbeer’, and a man addressing the crowd is heard saying that comments against Prophet Mohammed are being “repeatedly” made across India for the last “six-seven” years. He is Syed Sarwar Chisty, khadim of the dargah.

“Don’t provoke us or we [Muslims] will want to rule over this country all over again,” he says.

Watch the video below:

A search on the Internet suggests that the protest was covered only by The Times of India. The report says the Muslim community staged a huge protest in Dargah Bazaar demanding the arrest of Dasna temple priest Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati.

The only quote by the speaker carried in the report is that “respecting the religious figures of all faiths is central to our belief system. Saraswati has tried to provoke Muslims by disrespecting the prophet of Islam. It is a criminal act and he should be arrested immediately”.

The videos however reveal much more. “When names of cities were being changed, when names of railway stations were being changed… will you erase our glorious history by a rubber that we have ruled for 1,400 years?...We were the rulers of this country. We were not the subjects…Don’t provoke us into desiring to rule all over again,” the speaker is heard saying.

While this protest was held in Rajasthan, similar gatherings against ‘blasphemy’ and inflammatory speeches by fanatic groups are being witnessed across Uttar Pradesh. The target of their anger is Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, priest of a private temple in Dasna area of Ghaziabad district and self-proclaimed Hindutva activist.

Narsinghanand recently made statements against Prophet Mohammed at an event held at Delhi’s Press Club, the video of which was widely circulated on social media.

(Swarajya is not reproducing the content of his statement as even quoting ‘blasphemous’ content against Prophet Mohammed has resulted in murders in the recent past.)

Narsinghanand has had several police cases filed against him at police stations across the country including in New Delhi where the complaint was given by Aam Aadmi Party’s Amanatullah Khan.

Before giving the complaint, Khan had put out a Twitter post saying Narsinghanand’s head and tongue should be chopped off for blasphemy. After public outrage, the post was taken down by Twitter.

A week before the Ajmer protest, thousands of residents in and around UP’s Bareilly city rallied across the city giving open beheading calls. “Gustakh-E-Rasool ki ek hi saza, sar tan se juda, sar tan se juda [There is only one punishment for speaking against the Prophet and that is beheading]” were raised repeatedly.

Watch a clip from the rally below:

This protest was ignored by the national English media and was given subdued coverage even in the Hindi press.

Reports said that the rally was carried out on the call of an organisation named Jamaat Raza-E-Mustafa, and announcements were made through loudspeakers at mosques on the previous night itself. Reports further said that the city magistrate requested the organisers to hand over their memorandum of demands outside the Jama Masjid, given the pandemic, but they did not agree.

Besides giving beheading calls, the crowd demanded that Narsinghanand be booked under the National Security Act (NSA).

A New Delhi-based organisation Tahreek Farogh-E-Islam called a press meet this week to announce a campaign called ‘Ab ya to gustakh rahenge ya hum’ (now, either blasphemers will remain or us).

A Maulana associated with the organisation told the press that beginning from the 21st day of Ramzan, that is 4 May, Muslims across the country will do a “jail bharo” (fill the jails) protest. “The jails of Hindustan will run out of capacity,” the maulana said, adding that Muslims should not care about Coronavirus pandemic.

Posters for the campaign can be seen on the organisation’s YouTube Page 
Posters for the campaign can be seen on the organisation’s YouTube Page 

The speakers at the gathering said that they demanded no less than a 20-year jail sentence for blasphemy in India.

The speaker also justified Amanatullah Khan’s post on beheading. The Maulana said that Islam has a 1,400-year-old history of beheading blasphemers and Khan was correct in stating that the Islamic punishment for blasphemy is indeed beheading.

“If we were living in an Islamic nation, the punishment would have been beheading only. But Hindustan is run by Constitution. This is why we are giving memorandums and filing FIRs, but nobody is paying any heed,” the maulana said.

A protest rally has also been organised at Kanpur, where hoardings calling for beheading for Narasinghanand and Waseem Rizvi were also put up on streets. The police got the hoardings removed from streets after their pictures made their way to social media and sparked outrage.

Such protests are being largely ignored in the national English media. Even Hindi dailies are covering them sparingly, and without mentioning the inflammatory slogans.

Swati Goel Sharma is a senior editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @swati_gs.

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