‘Love jihad rally in Mumbai was criminal, unconstitutional,’ say rights activists

Members of Sakal Hindu Samaj during a rally in Mumbai | Picture: PTI

27 rights organisations from Maharashtra have written a letter to the police urging them to act tough against hate speech and book the culprits. 

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MUMBAI (MAHARASHTRA) — Several Maharashtra-based organizations have come down heavily on the Sakal Hindu Samaj for hate-mongering and inflaming divisive sentiments during Hindu Jan Akrosh Morcha rally held in Mumbai on January 29.

The organizations led by the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) has asked the police and Maharashtra state authorities to investigate and prosecute the incidents of communal hate speech made at several rallies held in Maharashtra under the banner of Hindu Jan Akrosh Morcha and take all measures to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.

The rally held on January 29 in Mumbai’s Dadar area, used divisive narratives like love jihad, land jihad and theories of population explosion amongst Muslims, and made inciteful and provocative hate speeches to incite the public and further hatred among communities.

The rally was organized by Sakal Hindu Samaj, an umbrella organisation of several Hindutva organisations such as Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, Shiv Pratishthan and Sanatan Sanstha. The rally ended with a provocative speech by Goshamahal MLA T Raja Singh also calling for a boycott of Muslim-owned businesses and for Hindus to ‘slit throats.’

Chayanika, a member of the Forum Against Oppression of Women told TwoCircles.net that at these rallies, the RSS and its allied organisations are spreading untruths about Muslim men enticing Hindu women into marriages to convert them. She said they have no basis to make these claims. “They are just repeating an untruth to create animosity and enmity between communities.”

She said that in the process they are actually controlling Hindu women and their right as adult citizens to make friends and relationships with whoever they want to. The assumption is that they do not have the intelligence to make decisions about their life, she said.

“These rallies are also demonizing Muslim men and attacking their right of freedom of association as Indian citizens. The hate-filled cries of violence from the rallies make Muslim men vulnerable to possible attacks,” she said.

Chayanika said that these rallies are changing the whole social ethos where communities interact with each other, make friends across communities and castes, and thereby become more diverse, plural and richer in their outlook. “So, it is an attack on all of us even if we may not choose to be in inter-religious marriages.”

During the rally on January 29, a provocative booklet containing misinformation and rumours with anti-Muslim sentiment to influence public opinion on communal lines was also distributed.

In spite of such highly provocative and inciteful hate speeches being made, no action has been taken by the Mumbai Police against the perpetrators including the organisers of the rally, speakers and MLA T Raja Singh.

Lara Jesani, Secretary General of PUCL Maharashtra said that it is reported that Hindu Jan Akrosh Morcha has held at least 30 rallies on love jihad and other communalizing subjects in Maharashtra.

Hate speeches and calls for violence against Muslims have also been reported, she said. “Yet the authorities have allowed these events to happen and also continue with impunity. While common citizens and activists are not given permission to hold peaceful protests on social issues, often they are served notices or FIRs are filed against them, such kind of communal hate speech is being allowed to go on freely.”

She said that the Maharashtra government must make sure that hate speech is not allowed anymore in the state. “It is criminal and unconstitutional.”

Meanwhile, over two dozen human rights and other groups have written to the Maharashtra Police chief and asked him to act against the organizers. The groups have said that they cannot be silent spectators to attempts being made to communalize the state of Maharashtra and sow seeds of hate and violence through the inciteful propaganda being made at these rallies and events.

“The state of Maharashtra has a long history of syncretism and secularism, where different communities have coexisted harmoniously. Earlier attempts to communalize the state and spark violence like the 1992 Bombay riots have had disastrous consequences on the people and this cannot be allowed to take place again,” the letter states.

The letter urges the police to take a tough stance on hate speech. “As those responsible for maintaining law and order in the city, it is your responsibility to ensure that the hate speech is prevented and the perpetrators are punished, instead of granting them impunity and a free hand,” it said.

“We accordingly call upon you to strictly implement the directions passed by the Supreme Court in the order dated 3rd February 2023 in letter and spirit, and to in any case take strict action against the increasing incidents of hate speech against Muslims in Maharashtra,” the letter reads.