Vikram Pawaskar is the Maharashtra State BJP Vice-President (VP) and belongs to a political family. His father, Vinayak Pawaskar is a senior Hindutva leader, and Pawaskar himself seems to be comfortably embedded within the Hindutva family. He is reportedly close to Maharashtra Deputy CM, Devendra Fadnavis, and has also has displayed proximity to Manohar Bhide (who’s self-styled name is Shambhaji Bhide now). Bhide who leads or heads the Shree Shiv Pratishthan is a notorious Hindutva leader from Maharashtra. Vikram Pawaskar has often speaking at events organised by Bhide’s Shree Shiv Pratisthan Hindustan. He has also held the post of the president of the Hindu Sena. His X bio states that he is located in or based from Karad, Maharashtra. Karad is a small town located in the Satara district, and is about 28 kilometres from the Puesevali village where Pawaskar today stands accused as being a key player and organiser behind stoking violence against Muslims.
Civil society groups have agitated and written to authorities about his hate speech made in June, 2023. Many people from Satara, especially from marginalised groups, who faced the violence have even called for his arrest, claiming he played an instrumental role in the September 2023 Satara violence which led to violent attacks on Muslim property, mosques, and even led to one young Muslim man being murdered and several others injured and arrested.
However, even prior to the Satara anti-Muslim violence, which took place in August and September 2023, Pawaskar’s right-wing, anti-Muslim proclivities have been widely observed and are documented.
Satara seems to have been a targeted location for igniting communal flare-ups way before the violence in August and September took place. In April 2023, a number of organisations, including the BJP and other Hindutva outfits, came together in their demand for strict action against officials in Satara district, Maharashtra for not dealing strictly with the “construction of an allegedly illegally constructed mosque in Phaltan, Satara”.
During the press conference, Pawaskar called for the demolition of the mosque in accordance with the state government’s “orders”. Pawaskar also stated that unless the Satara district administration promptly suspended the officers in question and initiated an inquiry, and unless the illegal construction was dismantled within a month, they would proceed with the construction of a Maruti (Hanuman) Temple just in front of the mosque! H also “warned” that if any violence or controversy erupts over this issue, then this would be the responsibility of the administration.
According to Sabrang India, on June 2, a gathering was arranged by Shiv Pratisthan Hindustan in Islampur. During this event, in the presence of police officers, Vikram Pawaskar made an incendiary speech that had anti-Muslim sentiments. He mentioned historical figures such as Tipu Sultan, and made derogatory comments about their lineage. Additionally, he also made remarks about the so-called bogey of “love jihad” as he called for unity among Hindus and also asserted that India should become a Hindu Rashtra.
“इस्लामपूर मध्ये एखाद्या भाभी च्या पोटामध्ये अफझलखान सारखी औलाद, औरंग्यासारखी औलाद ज्यांचा बाप टिपू सुलतान आहे या इस्लामपूर मध्ये अश्या टिपू सुलतान सारखी औलाद किंवा परवा आपल्या ताईला कश्या पद्धतीने मारलं दिल्लीमध्ये त्या लांड्यासारखी औलाद जर जन्म घेत असेल तर त्याच ठिकाणी मेली पाहिजे. छत्रपती शिवाजी महाराज कि जय. जय भवानी जय शिवाजी. जय श्री राम, जय श्री राम, जय श्री राम. १००% मरणार. परंतु हे भगवाध्वज आपल्या सर्वांचे श्रद्धास्थान छत्रपती शिवाजी महाराज, आपल्या सर्वांचे प्रेरणास्थान परमपूज्य.
The video may be viewed here:
Translation: In Islampur, a childlike Afzal Khan, a childlike Aurangya, whose father is Tipu Sultan, in Islampur, a childlike Tipu Sultan in Ishwarpur, or how Parva killed his father the other day, if a child like that lady in Delhi is born, then it should die there. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Ki Jai. Jai Bhawani Jai Shivaji. Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram. 100% will die. But this saffron flag is the place of worship of all of us, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the inspiration of all of us.”
He further spoke, “आपल्या मुलींना, आपल्या बहिणींना पळवलं जात आणि लव्ह-जिहाद च शिकार केलं जात. हिंदू धर्मातील स्त्री-धन नष्ट व्हावं, अश्या दृष्टिकोनातून जिहादी लोक प्रयत्न करत आहेत. त्यांना सडेतोड उत्तर आपण सर्वजणांनी मिळून दिल पाहिजे. वर्ण जाती विसरून जाऊ, हिंदू सारे एक होऊ. हिंदू धर्मातील जाती भेद बाजूला ठेवून छत्रपती शिवाजी महाराजांची, धर्मवीर संभाजी महाराजांच्या रक्तगटाची पिढी निर्माण व्हावी त्यासाठी प्रत्येकाने प्रयत्न केला पाहिजे. तो जर प्रयत्न आपण केला नाही तर मला अस वाटतंय कि २०४७ साली जी हि लांडी ओरडत्यात कि आम्ही इस्लामिक देश करणार आहे तर त्या दृष्टीने १००% ते वाटचाल करत आहेत. मला तुम्हाला प्रश्न विचारायचा आहे भारत हा हिंदुराष्ट्र झाला पाहिजे का नाही?
श्रोते :- झाला पाहिजे.
आवाज येत नाही.
श्रोते :- झाला पाहिजे.
भारत हा हिंदुराष्ट्र झालाच पाहिजे. हिंदू राष्ट्र होता, आहे आणि होणारच आहे. हि अशी मारणार नाही. मला असा वाटतंय कि येणाऱ्या काळामध्ये त्यांच्यावर आपल्याला बहिष्कार टाकला पाहिजे. बहिष्कार म्हणजे काय तर ज्याच्या कपाळी टिळा त्याच्याशीच व्यवहार पाळा. ज्याच्या कपाळी नाही टिळा त्याच्याशी व्यवहार टाळा. प्रत्येक इस्लामपूर मधील माता भगिनी असतील.
Translation: Our daughters, our sisters are abducted and hunted for love-jihad. Jihadists are trying to destroy women and wealth in Hinduism. We should all give them a comprehensive answer. Let’s forget caste and caste, all Hindus will be united. Caste differences in Hinduism should be kept aside, everyone should try to create a generation of the blood group of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Dharmaveer Sambhaji Maharaj. If we don’t make that effort, I think that in 2047, those who are shouting that we are going to make an Islamic country, they are 100% moving in that direction. I want to ask you a question whether India should become Hindu Rashtra or not?”
The audience roared with a loud affirmative, to which Pawaskar replied, “India must become Hindu Rashtra. Hindu Rashtra was, is and will be. She will not kill like this. I think we should boycott them in future. What is Boycott, then deal only with the one whose forehead is black. Avoid dealing with a person who has no forehead. Every mother from Islampur will be sister.”
In the aftermath of this speech by Pawaskar at Islampur, numerous concerned citizens and civil society organisations, including Dhanaji Gurav, B. G. Patil, Digvijay Patil, Shakir Tamboli, Shahaji Patil, had come together demanding for urgent legal action and a thorough investigation into these incendiary remarks made by Vikram Pawaskar and the organisers of the event held by Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan in Islampur.
They argue that Vikram Pawaskar made inflammatory statements that had the potential to create and lead to social discord, fuel communal animosity, and further create religious divisions in society. Citizens have submitted a formal memorandum/petition to Police Inspector Shashikant Chavan and have further observed and highlighted the fact that despite the speech and programme being held in front of hundreds of citizens and law enforcement officers, no legal case has been filed against Vikram Pawaskar or the event’s organisers, even after a lapse of eight days.
The memorandum was filed on the basis of the fact that the Supreme Court has in an ongoing hate speech case, emphasised on existing statutory requirements, underlining that the police are required under law and guidelines, to keep a ‘close watch’ on any such instances of hate speech. In fact, and when, consequences to hate speech (read violence) do occur, then the SC had underlined that the police should take action against the perpetrators.
Quoting these SC directives, citizens have demanded that these should all be implemented in the case of Pawaskar or they would themselves take the case to the Supreme Court. The Shiv Pratisthan Hindustan is an organisation known for its hardline Hindutva orientation. It is an organisation that is also associated with Sambhaji (Manohar) Bhide. What gives even more cause for alarm is that a complaint was registered and sent to the Supreme Court highlighting Pawaskar’s hate speech and the inaction of the local police, lawyer Shakir Tamboli from Satara informed Sabrangindia. However, this complaint was returned back to the sender.
In August, 2023, Vikram Pawaskar made the following statement according to a local report in तरुण भारत, “Everyone should plant a Bhagwa flag.”
Pusesevali in Maharashtra’s Satara district became the scene of violence. The violence was triggered by “anti-Hindu (Shivaji Maharaj)” social media posts. The violence led to one dead and several injured.
Residents and leaders in the area have assert that Hindutva groups, allegedly with the backing of a BJP leader, intentionally targeted the predominantly Muslim locality. As for the contentious posts allegedly posted by Muslim youth which led to the violence, their veracity is questionable. In fact, an earlier post of August 2023, attributed to a young Muslim youth was later found by the Satara police itself to have been the handiwork of a third party who had hacked into the Instagram account of the young Muslim who was even wrongfully jailed for this! Sabrangindia had, on September 15, reported from a press conference held in Mumbai on the Satara violence. According to journalist Parth MN, Pawaskar was even present just a few days before the violence at the home of one of the people who are accused of having led the attack against Muslims in Satara.
This was told to police by one Muslim survivor who was heavily injured, according to Parth MN. He also stated that when the attack was going on, one of the accused was heard to have said, “No landya (abusive term for Muslims) should be left alive tonight. Vikram Pawaskar has our back. Don’t show mercy,”
Just a few days before the Hindutva mob attacked Muslims in Pusesavali, BJP leader Vikram Pawaskar had held a meeting at the residence of one of the accused, according to the statement.
— Parth MN (@parthpunter) September 20, 2023
A fact finding report by the Centre for the Study of Society and Secularism also found that attackers in the mob were shouting, “Vikram Pawaskar ne bola hai ki ek bhi landya ko zinda nahi rakhna” during the attack on the mosque which had about 14 Muslims present in the building when the attack took place.
However, following the violence, when Pawaskar’s name started circulating as the man responsible for the incitement against Muslims, Hindutva outfits in the region threatened that they would indulge in public demonstration if any action was to be taken against Pawaskar, according to The Wire. According to the report, Vinayak Pawaskar (Vikram’s father) even stated that, “If you try to malign our religion, we will retaliate,” Vinayak Pawaskar said at a press conference.”