More than two weeks after Mumbai’s Mira Road was submerged in communal flames, Mumbai seems to be rising as a hotbed of hate. Multiple cases of hate crimes against Muslims have been reported from the city this year. It seems that Hindutva forces too have been coming together with hate speech and rallies with derogatory sentiments and slogans being given.
Mira Road was gripped with tension for days in the last week of January. The unsettling atmosphere was charged with fear after a group of young men on motorcycles, allegedly came and in a disruptive manner near local mosques. On the evening of January 22nd, people reportedly associated with Hindutva groups took to violence and started attacking Muslim owned shops and vehicles in the area. They engaged in stone-pelting, beating, and even arson in some cases. What followed this is reports that all those who faced action by the police were Muslim youth. A report by Scroll in the aftermath of the violence has stated that most of the stringent cases of law are filed against Muslims, while Hindus have faced charges for minor offences. Advocate Shahood Anwar, who is representing the shop owners, has stated according to Scroll that during the clashes about 22 shops owned by Muslims were subjected to vandalism. However, as of now, the police have not filed an FIR in any of these cases.
Following the Mira Road incident, multiple incidents of public violence against Muslims took place in the city.
Similarly, on January 20 a family who is based in Mumbai’s Chembur were returning home to be reportedly beaten up and harassed by a right-wing mob and forced to say Jai Sri Raam at Mumbai’s Panvel railway station. Upon taking their reserved seats, the survivor recounted how approximately 30-40 young men started a chorus of Jai Shri Ram slogans around the family, which included two young girls. The family continued to maintain a composed state but the chanting got worse with more people joining in and shouting “Mere Bharat Ka Bachha Bachha Jai Shri Ram Bolega.” The father of the family later tried to lodge a complaint, however it was reported that while at the station a BJP leader was present who demanded him to withdraw his complaint and instead, despite being subject of harassment, he says he himself has been booked by the police.
Furthermore, on January 22nd, a similar incident unfolded near Mira Road in Mumbai, where a Muslim man found himself forced to get off from his bike and chant ‘Jai Sri Ram’ after a mob attacked him. The incident was caught on camera and went viral on social media.
In a separate incident in Byculla, two Muslim youth reportedly were assaulted and, again, forced into chanting ‘Jai Sri Ram.’ The harrowing video of the crime was uploaded on social media and shows the two people who are visibly injured and bleeding, and are trying to talk about the traumatic looking very shocked. Some reports also alleged that there were women present at the scene who were also harassed, including a minor.
BJP politicians seem to be central in the controversy of anti-Muslim sentiments. In Mumbai’s Mira Road too, local MLAs Geeta Jain and Nitesh Rane reportedly tried to lead a Hindutva rally in the affected areas after the violence took place. They even gave the police an ‘ultimatum’ to let them conduct a rally as well. Rane even tweeted during the tense period, a part of which said “chun chun ke maarenge.”
Furthermore, almost two weeks after the incident, Rane was witnessed in Govandi’s Shivaji Nagar at Hindutva rally which was marked with reports of aggressive anti-Muslim slogans., such as “Band karo, band karo, Love-jihad band karo,” and “Tu Durga ban, tu kali ban, kabhi na burqe wali ban.”
Addressing the media, Nitesh Rane delivered an incendiary statement and promised a similar result to what happened in Mira Road for the people of Shivaji Nagar. He asserted, “Shivaji Nagar will also have the bulldozer. The Hindu here is also not safe. All of our Mankur-Shivajinagar area is becoming a mini-Bangladesh. Today our Hindu samaj stepped on the streets. Today here, a huge number of ‘illegal’ Masjids and madarsa are created by land jihad, these should be removed. Otherwise, we will do whatever we can – with the government. What happened in Mira Road, will happen here too, the bulldozer will be deployed.”
In the year 2023, Indian Express reported that Maharashtra witnessed 50 Hindutva rallies in the state in a span of 3 months. A few of these rallies were also held in the neighbourhood of Mira Road which saw violence against Muslims this year. Several speakers seen at the rallies also reportedly called for an economic boycott of Muslims. As per the report, the BJP has distanced itself from these rallies, however, it notes that BJP MPs and MLAs were present in almost all of these rallies. This shows how the state, which includes the financial capital of India, Mumbai, seems to be catching with communalism as Hindutva groups raise efforts to communalise the state.