In the recent events unfolding in the Indian states of Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, communal seeds have been sown as radical Hindutva groups have engaged in hate speech. Affecting the social fabric by targeting women and young men specifically in two different incidents, both the incidents reveal how Hindutva forces are granted impunity from law. In Jaitaran, Pali, Rajasthan, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal have distributed sharp-edged tridents among hundreds of Hindu men, raising concerns over public safety and inter-community relations.
The video shared on social media by Hindutva Watch shows the participants taking a pledge, vowing to adopt the role of ‘Kshatriya Hindu’ in an independent India. The video surfaced online on 1st of August, 2023.
Location: Jaitaran, Pali, Rajasthan
Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal distribute sharp edged tridents among hundreds of Hindu men. pic.twitter.com/jwhKh9WyOH
— HindutvaWatch (@HindutvaWatchIn) August 1, 2023
The pledge involved swearing on ‘Bharat Mata’ (Mother India) and ‘Gau Mata’ (Mother Cow), symbolising their devotion to the nation and cows. The commitment also included the protection of ‘daughters and sisters’, further emphasising their stance on safeguarding women, followed by cries of ‘Jai Shri Ram’, a popular Hindu chant. This incident has alarmed local communities and civil society groups, who fear such actions could ignite communal tensions in the region.
Meanwhile, in Raghunathpura, Bilaspur, in Himachal Pradesh, Hindu Jagran Manch leader Kamal Gautam delivered a divisive speech that demonised Muslims and promoted conspiracy theories about them, including those of Love Jihad. He also seemed to engage in calling for an economic boycott of Muslims. The video footage shared on Hindutva Watch’s Twitter account showcases Gautam urging a crowd of women to boycott Muslim-owned shops and support businesses run by the Hindu community. Gautam spoke to the women audience, urging them to buy from their (Hindu) ‘brothers’ and their own ‘samaj.’ Kamal Gautam is known to be a repeat offender in these instances of incendiary speeches against Muslims in Himachal. A former government teacher, he was recently suspended from his post for allegedly taking part in protests that took on a violent and communal turn. He has been an active member of the Hindu Jagran Manch in Himachal Pradesh.
Location: Raghunathpura, Bilaspur, Himachal
Hindu Jagran Manch leader Kamal Gautam delivers communal speech demonising Muslims. He peddled conspiracy theories and called for boycott of Muslim shops. pic.twitter.com/OcbfHqbMMq
— HindutvaWatch (@HindutvaWatchIn) July 31, 2023
Furthermore, in an attempt to construct public opinion, Gautam also rhetorically questioned whether people from malls would come to their aid during a crisis while emphasising the importance of attending a ‘Jai Shree Ram Katha’ instead. Such inflammatory speeches are known to fuel hostility and polarise communities, raising concerns over social harmony in the region. The video was uploaded on the account on 31st of July, 2023.