Bihar: Has Return Of Mahagathbandhan Sarkar Emboldened Anti-Hindu Political Forces?

Bihar: Has Return Of Mahagathbandhan Sarkar Emboldened Anti-Hindu Political Forces?

by Jaideep Mazumdar - Sunday, January 22, 2023 12:35 PM IST
Bihar: Has Return Of Mahagathbandhan Sarkar Emboldened Anti-Hindu Political Forces?Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav
  • The Hindus of Bihar, say BJP leaders, have started feeling insecure and apprehend more attacks on their faith, beliefs, and rituals, and more restrictions on Hindu festivals and practices.

Bihar has turned intolerant towards Hindus and Hinduism ever since Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ditched the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and joined hands with Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

The RJD has Muslims and Yadavs as its core support base.

Recent incidents in the backward state have given the impression that Hindus and Hindu beliefs, and sacred texts are once again targets of hate. And the inherent Muslim appeasement policy of the RJD has led to Muslim assertion and aggressiveness that has made Hindus feel insecure in the state.

The latest incident that has frightened and angered Hindus in Bihar is the blood-curdling warning issued by a senior leader of Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), or JD(U), that all cities in India would be turned into "Karbalas" if any Hindu disrespects Prophet Muhammad.

Karbala is a city in central Iraq where the Prophet’s grandson Husayn ibn Ali and his half-brother Abbas ibn Ali, and their families, were massacred in the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE.

Gulam Rasool Balyawi, a member of the Bihar Legislative Council, was addressing a large crowd of Muslims at Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand on 19 January.

Referring to BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s statement about the Prophet in a TV show last year — which had stoked controversy and led to brutal slayings of Hindus who had supported Sharma, Balyawi said that if any Hindu dares to disrespect "our master" (the Prophet), "we will turn every city (of India) into Karbala."

What Balyawi, who was also a member of the Rajya Sabha, meant was that Hindus in every city in India will be massacred if any Hindu dares to criticise Prophet Muhammad.

He also demanded a ‘Muslim Safety Act’ on the lines of the The Scheduled Castes & The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, which protects the scheduled castes and tribes from bias and discrimination.

Balyawi, who runs the Islamist Quami Ittehad Morcha, said that such a law had become necessary to criminalise atrocities against Muslims and the portrayal of Muslim youth as ‘terrorists’.

His atrocious statements were preceded by anti-Hindu remarks by Bihar's Education Minister and senior RJD leader, Chandra Shekhar, at the convocation of the state-run Nalanda Open University in the second week of this month.

RJD Leader’s Anti-Hindu Remarks

Chandra Shekhar told the students and teachers of the university that Hindu religious texts like Ramcharitmanas, Manusmriti, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue M S Golwalkar's Bunch of Thoughts "spread hatred" and "create social divide."

"A nation becomes great with love and affection. Books like Ramcharitmanas, Manusmriti, and Bunch of Thoughts sowed the seeds of hatred and social divide. This is the reason why people burnt Manusmriti and took exception to a portion of Ramcharitmanas, which talks against education for Dalits, backwards, and women."

The Minister quoted a couplet from Ramcharitmanas, which read: "Adham jati me vidya paye, bhayatu yatha ahi dudh pilaye (lower-caste people become poisonous after getting education, just as snakes become poisonous after consuming milk)."

His remarks triggered protests and condemnations, but the RJD stood by the Minister and even sought to justify what he said.

"What I believe is that the Minister, while making his statement, also referred to two other books, besides certain portions of the Ramcharitmanas. We all know that these kinds of books, however sacred they may be, carry the imprint of the generations of the times they were compiled in. There are indeed some grey areas in several books of all religions. His intent was to refer to only those areas, nothing else," RJD’s Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament (MP) Manoj Jha said.

The JD(U) issued a meek statement that everyone should refrain from criticising religions or religious texts.

Saraswati Puja Ban At State-Run Engineering College

Authorities of the state government-run B P Mandal College of Engineering at Madhepura have banned Saraswati puja on campus.

College principal Arvind Kumar told students preparing to organise the puja on Vasant Panchami (which falls on 26 January this year) that he would not allow them to install a murti of the goddess for worship. He threatened the students with legal action if his orders were violated.

The college principal said students could only perform the Saraswati puja in their own hostel rooms; however, murtis would not be allowed and only photographs of the goddess could be worshipped.

Kumar defended his diktat by saying that allowing the worship of goddess Lakshmi on campus would trigger demands by students of other communities to celebrate their religious festivals and that would vitiate the communal atmosphere in the campus.

Students of the engineering college are expectedly protesting and have threatened to launch an indefinite fast if the college does not withdraw the order. They contend that Saraswati puja had been held in the campus every year, and it had never caused any problems.

The campus erupted in protests on 21 January, and when a police team came in to restore order, angry students locked the gates of the college and held the team hostage.

Madhepura is the stronghold of Chandra Shekhar. The public perception there is that he ordered the college authorities to impose a ban on Lakshmi puja in the campus. He is well-known for his anti-Hindu views and Muslim appeasement.

Saraswati Puja Music Ban In Samastipur

The district magistrate of Samastipur — a stronghold of the JD(U)-RJD combine — has banned the practice of playing music in Saraswati puja pandals.

Yogendra Yadav, the magistrate, has also imposed other restrictions on the celebrations.

He has ordered the police to ensure that organisers of all Saraswati pujas obtain permission from the authorities and no ‘provocative’ banners and posters are put up inside or in the vicinity of the pandals.

The police have also been asked to mark out routes to be taken for the immersion of murtis and ensure that organisers stick to the routes.

The district magistrate has ordered the police to file criminal charges against anyone violating the restrictions imposed on Saraswati puja.

The diktat has come in for widespread criticism and is being seen as another instance of Muslim appeasement by the mahagathbandhan government in the state.

BJP state president Sanjay Jaiswal told Swarajya that these are not isolated incidents, but part of a well-orchestrated move to denigrate Hindus and Hinduism, place restrictions on Hindu festivals, and make the Hindus of the state feel scared and insecure.

"This is being done to appease another community. Many RJD leaders harbour a deep hatred for Hindus and Hinduism, and this is coming out in the open since the party is in power in the state. We expect more such acts that violate the sentiments and rights of Hindus," Jaiswal said.

BJP leaders cite Balyawi's open threat to Hindus to contend that the Muslim appeasement of the state government has encouraged Muslim militancy.

"Muslims have become very aggressive in Bihar and are threatening and attacking Hindus because they know the mahagathbandhan government will not do anything to protect Hindus," said a senior BJP leader.

The Hindus of Bihar, say BJP leaders, have started feeling insecure and apprehend more attacks on their faith, beliefs, and rituals, and more restrictions on Hindu festivals and practices.

The BJP state chief, Jaiswal, contends that since no leader of the mahagathbandhan will ever utter a single word against any other religion, and since restrictions will never be placed on the celebration of a festival of any other religion, Bihar has turned into an anti-Hindu state.

Unfortunately, this perception is being shared by a growing number of Hindus in Bihar. 

Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

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