50 anti-Muslim rallies held in Maharashtra in last four months: Report

Hindu Jan Aakrosh Morcha in Mumbai | Photo: Twitter

Since November of last year, at least 50 ‘Hindu Jan Aakrosh Morcha’ rallies have been conducted in practically all of Maharashtra’s 36 districts.

Each of these events has followed a set pattern: a brief march through the heart of the city, amid a sea of saffron flags and caps, followed by a short rally, where speakers on a makeshift dais attack minorities, invoke “love jihad”, “land jihad”, “forced conversions”, and call for the economic boycott of the Muslim community, according to an Indian Express report.

According to the report, the BJP distances itself from these rallies, saying they are by the Sakal Hindu Samaj, an umbrella body of Hindutva and Sangh organisations, but almost all of these events have had the presence of party leaders, including the local BJP MLA and MP. The speeches, however, are largely delivered by right-wing hardliners, including suspended BJP leader and Telangana MLA T Raja Singh, Kalicharan Maharaj and Kajal Hindustani — at least two of them (Singh and Maharaj) face hate speech cases both in the state and elsewhere.

On March 12, statements against “Islamic aggression,” “love jihad,” and “land jihad” were given at one such rally in Mumbai’s Mira Road, with some of the speakers urging an economic boycott of Muslims.

Although Maharashtra Police officers were seen at the majority of the demonstrations and were spotted recording the speeches, no cases have yet been brought against any of the speakers. The Maharashtra Police had twice booked T Raja Singh for making hateful remarks in Latur (in February) and Ahmednagar (in March), but those rallies weren’t organised by the “Hindu Jan Aakrosh Morcha,” thus they weren’t covered by their flag.

The speakers at these gatherings have termed Muslims “unpatriotic,” notwithstanding a February 3 Supreme Court order that the Hindu Jan Aakrosh Morcha will only be permitted provided there is “no hate speech.”

Alongside the Morcha rallies, there have been similar gatherings across Maharashtra, notably the ‘Hindu Rashtra Jagruti Sabhas’ hosted by the Hindu Janjagriti Samiti, a Goa-based group with a declared purpose of building a “Hindu nation”. These gatherings also feature inflammatory speeches.

The state’s main opposition parties have mostly decided to remain silent on the Hindu Jan Aakrosh Morcha rallies.



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