On August 18th, an Islamist mob was seen baying for the blood for a minor Hindu boy, allegedly even pelting stones at his home, in the Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh over ‘blasphemy’. Even the local police station was besieged by the mob and additional forces had to be rushed to control the situation. This occurred following an incident where a Hindu Class 9 student reportedly reacted to an abusive and sacrilegious post against Hindu Dharma made by his Muslim classmate.
This incident occurred within the jurisdiction of the Sheeshgarh police station. A large Muslim mob, numbering in the thousands, gathered outside the police station demanding the arrest of the Hindu student. The mob staged a sit-in protest at the Ramlila grounds and refused to disperse until the arrest was made. Despite efforts by senior police officers and district administrators to calm the situation, they were unsuccessful.
The father of the Hindu student claimed that the Muslim student had initially made the offensive comment on Instagram, and his son had only reacted to it. He called upon the police to investigate the matter and alleged that the Muslim mob was trying to intimidate his family.
The Inspector General of Police (IG) Rakesh Singh, Commissioner Saumya Agarwal, and Bareilly SSP Ghule Sushil Chandrabhan arrived at the scene and subsequently arrested both of the minor students. Adequate police personnel and the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) were deployed to maintain peace in the area.
Bareilly SSP Chandrabhan confirmed that those involved in the violent protests were being identified, and the entire area was under surveillance with CCTV footage being examined. More than a dozen individuals involved in the violence were taken into custody and were to be sent to jail. Additionally, a case was registered against both of the accused students.
Earlier this month in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh, a similar incident occurred. An Islamist mob gathered outside a police station, chanting “Sar tan se Juda” (STSJ) slogans.
The mob was angered by an alleged blasphemous post made by a woman on social media platforms and called for police intervention, even advocating for strong action against the accused, including the use of a bulldozer. The police had taken the accused woman into custody and also identified individuals from the mob who raised murderous slogans.
Blasphemy in Pakistan
A Muslim mob in Pakistan recently caused extensive damage to over 80 Christian residences and 19 churches, as per reports. This rampage was again provoked by accusations of ‘blasphemy’. Two Christian Pakistani individuals have been arrested on charges of blasphemy in connection with the incident.
The mob had set fire to houses and churches, alleging the desecration of the Quran. It’s worth noting that blasphemy is a crime punishable by death in Pakistan, and individuals accused of it often face violent acts by angry mobs. These arrests took place following the vandalism of at least 20 churches in Jaranwala, Faisalabad, and the torching or damaging of several Christian residences.
Persecution of minorities in the name of blasphemy seems to be routine in Pakistan. Apart from Hindus who are persecuted regularly, other minorities in the country such as Sikhs, Shias, Ahmadis apart from Christians, and atheists have faced accusations of blasphemy for their beliefs.
This has resulted in lynchings and imprisonments based on unverified allegations of blasphemy. Secular bloggers have been targeted with kidnappings, and the government has launched campaigns encouraging citizens to report potential blasphemers.
Pakistan is one of the countries where blasphemy is punishable by death, and the issue of blasphemy is highly sensitive in the country. Even unproven allegations can incite mobs and violence.
In 2021, a Sri Lankan national working as a factory manager in Punjab province was killed by an angry mob over blasphemy allegations. As mentioned above, minorities, including Christians and Hindus in Pakistan, have frequently been targeted with blasphemy accusations, and some have been tried and sentenced under the stringent blasphemy law.
Kamlesh Tiwari, Kanhaiyalal, Kishan Bharwad, Umesh Kolhe
Azam Khan of the Samajwadi Party labelled members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as homosexuals when Arun Jaitley (BJP) had expressed his support for decriminalising homosexuality. In response, Kamlesh Tiwari allegedly made some comments about Islam’s Prophet, resulting in thousands of Muslims staging protests in Muzaffarnagar. Some demanded Tiwari’s execution, while others called for his public beheading.
Tiwari was arrested in Lucknow on December 3, 2015, and charged under the National Security Act by the Samajwadi Party-led Uttar Pradesh state government. He spent several months in jail for his remarks, and the Allahabad High Court revoked his detention under the National Security Act on September 30, 2016. On October 18, 2019, Tiwari was brutally murdered in his office-cum-residence in Lucknow by Farid-ud-din Shaikh and Ashfak Shaikh. He was stabbed not once, not twice, but 15 times and was also shot once. Despite the filing of chargesheets and arrests, the perpetrators have not been convicted for this crime up to the present day. The Supreme Court even granted a petition by the accused to shift the case out of Lucknow.
This isn’t the first time such instances have happened in response to what is considered “blasphemy” against the minority community in India. Kishan Bharwad (Boliya) was shot dead in Jan 2022 following incitement by a maulana, after he reportedly made a social media post proclaiming Sri Krishna greater than Allah (ironically, the fundamental tenet of Islam is that Allah is the only God, and all other Gods are false).
What happened to Nupur Sharma is something no Hindu would forget. Following that incident, we had a Kanhaiyalal & Umesh Kolhe happen. The raising of murderous slogans like STSJ because something hurts religious sentiments is an overwhelming reaction we are seeing more than ever these days.