Mahapanchayats and hate panchayats are not the same

Jamia shooter, Surajpal Amu call for anti-Muslim violence, and seem to have gotten away yet again!


There are two kinds of Mahapanchayats, large gatherings of thousands of villagers, that have been convened recently. First are the massive gatherings, where thousands of farmers, men and women, have been coming together in villages across Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and other parts of India in solidarity with their kin, still protesting on Delhi’s borders against the three farm laws they deem draconian.

These Mahapanchayats are peaceful, and energising for the lakhs of farmers who come from farm and wide to listen to community leaders and pledge to work together in brotherhood, and to stand up against any oppressive policies forced upon them. 

These Mahapanchayats have also brought together the farmer communities across the traditional caste divides and religious lines. While the farm movement leaders such as Rakesh Tikait, has often been credited with mobilising these, he has acknowledged that it is the community that is the strength behind the movement. The community of farmers which has united across India and made the dissent against the three farm laws a national movement, making the world take notice, are also a political force. As they are community based, their leaders are revered as community elders, whose word is often seen as a command by the panchayat members. These may also play a deciding factor in the upcoming elections. Especially in Uttar Pradesh, which is likely to go to polls in February 2022. 

Farmers movement is being countered with hate speech?

The impact of these farmers’ Mahapachayats is evident as a counter movement is now being mobilised by right wing forces who are generating communal passions at their own meeting. Often called on caste lines, these offer stages from which known communal faces make hate speeches. The most recent has been a call for violence given by a young man better known as the ‘Jamia shooter’. 

On January 30, 2020, when he was 17 years old, the gun-wielding right-wing miscreant had opened fire on a group of protesters near Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMIU), who were protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and demanding on Martyrs Day, a return to Gandhian values of peace, inclusion and tolerance. Shockingly, the events unfolded in front of the police and security personnel deployed on the spot as well as in full view of media persons who had gathered to cover the students’ march to Rajghat, Mahatma Gandhi’s samadhi. The Jamia shooter reportedly said, “Kisko chahiye azadi, yeh lo azaadi,” (Who wants freedom? Here’s your freedom!) before he fired his gun. A man identified as Shadaab was injured in the firing and a video of the incident went viral on social media.

A year later, the now 18-year-old was a star attraction at Mahapanchayat in Pataudi, Haryana. He stood up and told the crowd of like-minded people to “abduct Muslim women”, and boasted that if he could go over a 100 km away and “into Jamia in support of CAA”, “Pataudi is not very far”. His warning was for those he called “jihadis”. He said, “Pataudi se kewal itni chetavani dena chaahta hoon, un… jihadiyon, aatankwadi mansikta ke logon ko, jab sau kilometre door Jamia ja sakta hoon CAA ke samarthan mein, toh Pataudi zyada door nahin hai.” (From Pataudi I want to warn Jihadis, those with a terrorist mindset, when (I) can go 100 kilometers away into Jamia in support of CAA, then Pataudi is not very far.) He chants “Jai Sri Ram” and the crowd echoes his mood. A new communal leader may just have been anointed.  

A video of his hate speech at the Mahapanchayat was then circulated on social media. The crowds can be heard cheering him as he hurls communal slurs and claims that when “Muslims are attacked, they too will chant ‘Ram Ram’”.

According to news reports, this Hindutva fueled Mahapanchayat, was called to “discuss religious conversion, ‘love jihad’, and a law to control population.” According to The Indian Express, in January he was apprehended from the spot, and an FIR was registered against him under IPC Section 307 (attempt to murder). “He was later sent to a correctional home by the juvenile justice board, from where he came out after some months. We haven’t received a formal complaint about the recent incident and are looking into the matter,” a senior police officer from the Crime Branch was quoted by IE. However, the report added that this time he has gotten away with the hate speech so far. Varun Singla, DCP (Manesar), was quoted by the media saying, “We have not received any complaints regarding any of the speeches at the Mahapanchayat, no FIR has been registered.” 

However, they did admit that they knew that the event was being organised and police personnel were deployed in the area. It is likely that the police present also heard the hate speeches and communal slurs being launched there.

BJP spokesperson, Suraj Pal Amu of Karni Sena spewed hate there too

Known rabble rouser Suraj Pal Amu of Karni Sena, who has recently earned his latest appointment as a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman in Haryana was another speaker reported to have been provoking those at the gathering to “not become history” and ensure that “no Taimur, Aurangzeb, Babur and Humayun are born.” According to news reports, he said, “If India is our mother, then we are the father of Pakistan, and we will not give houses here on rent to the Pakistanis… Remove them from this country.” Amu reportedly added, “If you want to make history in this country, if you don’t want to become history, neither will Taimur be born, nor will Aurangzeb, Babur, Humayun be born. We are 100 crore, and they are 20 crore.” 

His most effective way to stay in the limelight, till recently was to attack makers of period Hindi films, claiming they hurt his ‘Rajput’ pride on celluloid. However, all that pales in comparison to what he has been doing lately. Targeting Muslims, inciting violence, Amu, proudly posts on his Facebook page, clips from communal hate speeches such as the one he made before a “Hindu Mahapanchayat ” at Indri (Nuh), Haryana. He called Muslims, killers, accusing the community of targeting Hindu women and called for the crowds to “respond”.

He justified the killings, especially validating the murder of Asif Khan. Communal tension has been rising in Haryana’s Nuh district following the brutal killing of  27-year-old Asif Khan last month. His family had alleged that he was abducted, asked to chant Hindu chants that had been turned into war cries by Hindutva mobs, and then beaten to death on May 6. Amu’s hate speech against Muslims is received with applause by the large gatherings. On June 11, Amu was named a BJP spokesperson in Haryana. The appointment was announced by BJP’s Haryana state president Om Prakash Dhankar himself. 

In the recent Mahapanchayat, Amu also praised the villagers of Bohra Kalan who did not allow a mosque to be built in their village and told the crowds to “uproot the foundation of works of buildings like these and throw them away”, stated news reports, while he goaded the locals not to allow members of the minority community to settle in Pataudi. As per an Indian Express report, he said, “During 1947, the country was divided, we saw the bodies of 10 lakh people. There is no tally of those bodies till today. And we are giving them houses and shops. It has been found in Pataudi that their parks are being built. Uproot the stone of the park. Which one of the youngsters is ready to uproot the stone?” 

Pataudi is a Municipal Council city in Pataudi tehsil of Gurgaon district. According to Population Census 2011, there are a total 3,481 families residing in the Pataudi city. The census states, “Total Hindu population in Pataudi is 14,418 which is 70.61% of the total population. Also, the total Muslim population in Pataudi is 5,923 which is 29.01% of the total population.”

Amu has once again called for violence against Muslims, telling the crowds to attack them one by one. No action was taken against him the last time he did so, a few weeks ago. His political colleagues have been telling the media that Amu’s words are his personal opinion. However, the hundreds who are cheering him on, seem to agree with his communal and violent ideas. They are likely to listen to people like Amu come election time, not just in Haryana, but also spread hate in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.

Social harmony can cancel hate

However, there is still hope that peace and fraternity will counter the hate. As shown by a recent meeting in Nuh, where a people’s conference for communal harmony and brotherhood was held on June 20. Participants included ASHA workers, sanitation workers, mid-day meal workers, officials, members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) who came together as citizens of India, to promote communal harmony. Women, especially, joined the conference in large numbers. A visible demand and thought reverberating through the individuals who participated in the conference was that the rights granted by the Constitution of India should be equally granted to all, justice especially should be equally accessible to all.


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