Rama Navami, the day when Prabhu Ram was born, has in the recent years started making headlines for being the day when injuries to Rama bhaktas are reported.
With Navami processions being attacked across the country, Maharashtra was also not untouched from the problem and the state witnessed riots on the day.
Three separate incidents of violence were reported from Maharashtra on Rama Navami: from Mumbai; Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar; and the last one being from Jalgaon.
Mumbai’s Malvani, a suburb represented by Congress MLA Aslam Shaikh in the assembly, saw the police arresting close to two dozen miscreants for pelting stones at a Rama Navami procession.
In Malvani case, Tajinder Tiwana, the Mumbai BJP Youth President, claimed that keeping in mind the timing of the namaz, when the procession was passing near a mosque, the dhols (drums) were stopped.
Yet, the procession was attacked.
In Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, it is claimed that after the initial clash, it was the police itself which was targetted.
In Jalgaon too, the Hindu procession was attacked reportedly for playing music while passing nearby a mosque.
Sadly, attacks on Rama Navami processions aren’t something new, but with every passing year, they are increasing in count and intensity.
Indeed, as one Twitter handle observed: “The Solution for all the communal tensions are: ‘Hindus must stay indoors and stop celebrating any of their festivals’ this definitely is not applicable to minorities.”
While action from police was initiated, many in Maharashtra felt that the response wasn’t up to expectations.
In Madhya Pradesh, in the previous year especially, there were similar attacks on Rama Navami yatras.
Immediate and massive action from the state had followed. Those involved in the attacks saw their homes being bulldozed. The response of the state government gave the MP Home Minister, Narottam Mishra, a national profile.
Of course, this approach has been made popular by UP CM Yogi Adityanath. From confiscating properties of anti-CAA rioters to bulldozing houses of those leading rallies where 'sar tan se juda' slogans were raised, the UP CM and Home Minister has given a new standard of dealing with communal unrest.
So much so, that if there is communal riot in a BJP-governed state, the 'Yogi response' is the bare minimum expected from the administration.
In Maharashtra, immediately after the clashes were reported, social media was flooded, demanding the response that UP CM Yogi Adityanath has made popular: the bulldozer.
These demands came not just from BJP supporters, some BJP members too voiced their opinion asking for the same.
For example, Mohit Kamboj, a leader from the BJP took to social media asking for strict action against the miscreants. He even blamed the Senior Inspector of Malad-Malvani area for being negligent. Do note, that the police department reports to the Home Ministry, which is run by Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
On his part, Fadnavis did limit the clashes and violence to specific areas and prevented it from spreading. He even asked political parties to not give the riots any political colour.
Yet, many of his supporters were probably expecting more.
Their reasoning is simple: if a BJP administration under Yogi Adityanath can ensure that Rama Navamai processions are carried out without being attacked, why can’t a BJP administration ensure the same in Maharashtra too?
In this expectation there is also a fear, not illegitimate—if a forceful example is not set out, these incidents will keep on repeating.
Of course, Hanuman Janmotsav was celebrated at a grand scale in Maharashtra on 6 April and the state Home department ensured that there was no major unrest occurring on that day.
Even so, the residents of Maharashtra and the supporters of Fadnavis look up the Maharashtra Home Minister to not just ensure that justice is done but also make it seem like justice is done.
Varun Singh, is a Mumbai-based journalist and tracks politics and other important news from the western region of the country. Varun has spent close to 18 years in journalism.
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