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Bajrang Dal for polarization in Maharastra 
By MH Lakdwala, Mumbai

In Maharashtra Muslim are feeling hurt as time and again since last few months they are being targeted either by police or by the Sangh parivar. Malegoan riots, handling of the Afroz arrest, and the continued tirade by the notorious Bajrang Dal is rupturing the psyche of the Muslim masses, creating fear psychosis, especially amongst Muslims living in the interiors. 

In Maharashtra, Bajrang Dal has become very active in its anti-Muslim tirade especially after September 11.Hand bills with provocative and inflammatory writings are being distributed. The Bajrang Dal agenda is a part of the larger agenda of the Sangh Parivar at the National level. 

Reports of harassment of Muslims by Bajrang Dal, from districts such as Pune, Aurangabad, Nasik have been brought to the notice of State Minority Commission. Even Tablighi Jamaat which was left untouched in past is in the firing range, many of their ijtema disturbed and activists threatened. 

Bajrang Dal strategy is very simple. 
PLAN: 1: Is to target Muslims living in remote areas and harass them so that these Muslims lose their religious identity and assimilate completely with the majority community. 

PLAN: 2:Identify Muslim pockets where they are economically strong and target them so that either they migrate or become weight less politically. 

Significantly, Amin Khandwani, chairman of the State Minorities Commission visited many such villages last month, after receiving representations from the affected families. 

A recent episode in Mangle village, Shirali taluka, Sangli district, in Maharashtra testifies about the agenda of Bajrang Dal.The State Minorities Commission received a representation from the Muslims from Mangle, about the humiliating conditions that had been imposed on the village's 35 Muslim families by the local police-sponsored Peace Committee, comprising 12 Hindus affiliated to Bajrang Dal.

Those conditions were: shaving their beards, not roaming around the village in a Muslim dress, giving up their namaz caps, offering namaz only once a day, stopping azan over the loudspeaker, not inviting any religious group to the village mosque, nor becoming part of any religious group, and accepting the Committee's decision to "extern" one Yunus Musa Shaikh who had allegedly broken the Ganesh idol in the local gymnasium. 

The Peace Committee had already 'externed' Musa Shaikh and his three uncles. It also announced the 'externment' of Abbas Sutar, another villager, who had, after attending a Tableeghi Jamaat convention, taught the local Muslims the correct way of offering namaz. These are not isolated examples of violence against Muslims by the Saffron family. The affected families from all over Maharashtra, in their representation to the state Minorities commission had reported many such instances.

Shankar Gaikar, secretary, Bajrang Dal, Maharashtra is spearheading the Bajrang Dal agenda. He toured various villages of Maharashtra, where he claims he has been insisting that loudspeakers in mosques be removed. Gaikar is also leading the current Ayodhya movement in full swing in Maharashtra. Significantly, the movement was kicked off in Mumbai's Gol Deval temple, which stands as a 'border' between Muslim and Hindu areas. 

Amin Khandwani sees a pattern in the communal incidents in Maharashtra over the last few months."The Vishwa Hindu Parishad/Bajrang Dal (VHP/BD) goes to villages' in-groups of 40 to 50. There they make provocative speeches and then move on to another village. Hours after they have left, a riot breaks out in the village, which normally doesn't have more than 30 to 40 houses of Muslims. Even if a riot doesn't break out, they succeed in spreading tension from village to village", He said.

Bajrang Dal has just finished a month's Jalabhishek programme, which was conducted all over India and at 6,500 places in Maharashtra." We started this campaign at Raileshwar, where 10,000 Bajrang Dal members followed the example of Shivaji Maharaj, who had cut his finger and taken a vow in blood. We vowed that the blood we shed would be avenged with the blood of anyone who stopped us from building the Ram temple. We convince people. We tell them that terrorists are waiting at every corner. At every kilometer, there's a masjid or dargah, and these are storehouses of weapons."said Shankar Gaikar."We Hindus don't have even brooms in our homes. That is why on Dussehra I declared that, today, every Hindu must worship at least one weapon in his house. We tell people that building the Ram temple will free our country from the clutches of the two kinds of terrorism: Islamic and Christian" 

When asked about why Tableeghi Jamaat is being targeted, Shankar Gaikar said "These Tableeghi people come to villages and fill the Muslims' heads with Laden. The Tableeghi people only tell Muslims to be more religious. What is written in their religion? To wage jihad against kafirs. The Tableeghis make Muslims fanatics. In the villages of Maharashtra, Muslims normally join in the Ganpati procession. They have lived comfortably with Hindus all their lives. They know nothing about caps and beards. But the Tableeghi Jamaat changes all this". Further adding he said, "In Mangli, one Muslim broke the temple idol. So they were all made to shave off their beards. The villagers are doing this on their own. The sarpanch has removed the loudspeaker from the mosque and warned Muslims not to let any outsider come there. You people are also outsiders who go to incite the villagers". 

In villages around Malegaon, so many Mosques have been destroyed. "That's the answer to the Muslims' aggression in Malegaon, where they are in a majority. That's the only way to make them understand. Hindus are no longer in a mood to tolerate". Said Shankar Gaikar.

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal when asked about the anti-social activities of Bajrang Dal said,"I had directed all police officials in the state to take stern action against Bajrang Dal and other organisations indulging in anti-social activities". 

Bhujbal, who also holds home portfolio, issued orders to all the concerned police officials to take stringent action against activists of Bajrang Dal and other organisations under the Maharashatra prevention of crime, anti-social and dangerous activities act if found guilty. Under the act, the guilty would be awarded six months jail. 

All India Christian Council also demanded that the Centre probe the Sangh Parivar's specifically Bajrang Dal activities against religious minorities and take appropriate legal action against the guilty as the Council could provide ample evidence against them. 

D'souza totally disagree with the Centre's explanation that there was no evidence against organisations affiliated to the Sangh Parivar and termed it as incorrect. "We can challenge it. In fact, police cases had been registered in Gujarat against Bajrang Dal workers and similar evidence of violence against religious minorities including testimonies of victims could be presented even in Maharashtra" he said."'For instance, the attack against a priest in Thane, reportedly by Bajrang Dal workers, had been filmed by a couple of local channels. The government just has to obtain those videocassettes, and it has not done so till now". 
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