Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Palghar lynchings: It’s time Maharashtra govt. address the nation’s angst

It has been a few days since the Palghar killings of Sadhus shook the conscience of the nation and its values but little else has happened otherwise.

Chikane Maharaj Kalpavriksh Giri (70) and Sushil Giri Maharaj (35) probably were not the bread-earners for their families, sanyasis as they were, but what about the driver Nilesh Telgade, who hailed from an underprivileged background and leaves behind two daughters—Shalini and Sanika—besides his wife and mother? What happens to them whose sustenance was lost on that one single horrific night? Have we heard of any compensation to them announced by the Maharashtra government?

A week has passed since the Police first announced that they reached the venue only after the lynchings were over; and then somersaulted on the evidence of videos where men in khaki were seen handing over the unfortunate victims to the murderous mob. We do know that those shameless cops have been suspended. But what made these cops do what they did?

A few credible reports conclusively show that those two unfortunate seers could’ve been spared if they were not wearing the saffron robes. Chitra Choudhary, sarpanch of the village, reached the spot within 15 minutes of Sadhus’ being detained inside their own car by the swelling mob. She was able to keep the crowd in check for 2-3 hours though by then the vehicle had been punctured and overturned.  Police finally arrived at 11 pm and took the two Sadhus inside their own patrolling car.  What then made police take the Sadhus out of car and hand them over to mob and watch the lynching? They could’ve easily driven those threatened lives to safety. What made them drop the option? It’s unlikely they wouldn’t have spoken to their seniors or somebody. Who did they speak to? What transpired in those calls?

Chitra has also confirmed that the crowd became bloodthirsty once the local NCP leader Kashinath Choudhari arrived at the spot. Chants of Dada aala, Dada aala (Big brother is here) began. Kashinath has also conceded to his presence. He has been accused of instigating the mob.

Piecing these two pieces together—one, police playing its part in the gruesome lynching of the Sadhus, two, an NCP leader accused of instigating the mob—makes observers stumble on to arguably a far more sinister motive.

Tribals, as we know, are the prime target of conversion mafia. The tribal belt in Maharashtra, including Palghar, is the beehive of Christian missionaries. It happens with the active support of a few regional political parties of Maharashtra who are known to supply illegal liquor to the tribals. Those in the know, including seers, oppose such conversion mafia, hand in gloves with the politicians.

Once you put these jigsaw puzzles together, a definite picture emerges behind the lynchings.  Sadhus were singled out because they were Hindu seers and bitterly resented in this den of UrbanNaxal operations. Thus mistaking them for being “child-lifters” is a bogus excuse already busted in light of emerging facts. Police and the NCP leader’s presence put the state machinery in a very poor light.

India, as a whole, is stirring up to Palghar. A Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) delegation has already called upon Maharashtra’s governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and asked for a high-level inquiry into the lynchings.  They see a deeper conspiracy, borne out by similar incidents in the past, which they ascribe to the influence of Leftists in the area. They have also sought accountability from the state government; wondering if they would be similarly apathetic had the victims belonged to a minority community.

Now the Hindu Dharma Achara Sabha has also approached the Maharashtra Governor. Their anguish is on similar lines against the police, government and Leftists’ influence in the area. They cite the growing presence of illegal immigrants in the area; the hatred that has been sowed in the minds of tribals against the Hindus.

It’s not just the lynchings but the alleged agenda behind the dastardly crime which is disturbing. What happens to innocent citizens if the state is seen as offering a helping hand to the lynchings? When some are singled out only because they belong to a particular religion and are hated by the adherents of an ideology? Such are the paths where hatred is sowed, communal-divide is deepened and the essence of the Union is put in danger. The least Maharashtra government could do is to come out clean on the matter.   

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