Nineteen people have been arrested by the authorities on charges related to rioting and the sharing of provocative content across social media platforms. Reports suggest that further investigation is currently ongoing towards identifying and prosecuting those who are responsible for creating fraudulent videos that added fuel to the fire at Mumbai’s Mira Road which last week saw widespread violence. A mob of over 100 Hindutva supporters had crashed through the area and had vandalised and burned vehicles and shops.
A report by The Quint reveals that the security arrangements are still strongly at place, with over 1,000 police officers deployed in the area. This includes six platoons from the State Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and three platoons from the Rapid Action Force (RAF). Authorities had earlier issued stern warnings to administrators of various groups, warning them against the sharing of incendiary posts on social media networks.
Reports had earlier emerged that BJP MLAs Nitesh Rane and Geeta Jain were making attempts that could lead to escalation of tensions at the Mira Road area. Since security had been amped at the place, the two leaders had made attempts to enter the area, with Jain even having stated an ultimatum to the authorities if the rally were not allowed to pass through the area, they would come without permission. Nitesh Rane too had posted on X a tweet which reportedly talked of violence.
However, as the week unfolded law and order, it seems, has taken due course. Further, according to the Free Press Journal, a meeting of all parties and police officials along with the district authorities had taken place in Mira Road. Representatives of both print and electronic were also present for this attempt at a peace-making gathering on January 25. This gathering was held behind closed doors and sought to devise a strategy for reinstating normalcy following the recent clashes at Mira Road. Some of the figures in attendance included local legislators Pratap Sarnaik, former legislators Narendra Mehta, Muzaffar Hussain, Police Commissioner Madhukar Pandey, Civic Chief Sanjay Katkar, and local MNS and RPI chiefs Sandip Rane and Devendra Shelekar. The meeting also reportedly included BJP’s local MLA Geeta Jain.
However, along with this, several citizens and political leaders have been taking steps to ensure that communal harmony is set at a balance. The National Congress Party’s (NCP) MP Jitendra Awhad spoke on the recent incidents and urged for peace, “I request that both the communities should stay calm; everyone suffers. Those who spark the fire (of hatred) stay somewhere else in bungalows and apartments. Their houses are not burnt, houses of poor people are burnt.”
Similarly, Ranvir Bajpai a BJP spokesperson and activist who is reportedly also resident of Mira Bhayandar also released a video of himself online in which he is seen urging people from both religious communities to maintain caution and stay away from rumours, and is seen requesting the people of both the communities to maintain peace in Mumbai’s Mira Road.
Similarly, more stories to bring about communal harmony sprung up as a report by a media portal called City Headline was featured on a page called Hate Detectors on the social media site X. It brings to us visuals of a very old temple dedicated to the deity Ganesh which is situated in the Mira-Bhayandar area. The temple caretaker named Inderjeet says that Muslims come and clean the temple and he has been peacefully carrying out his duties without any fear. Another staff member working at the temple for 20 years says that he has never felt afraid while working at the temple contrary to what many right-wingers claim on social media, “If I had felt unsafe, would I have worked here for 20 years?” He asks. Another individual, named Suraj Kannojia stated that he had been working there for 15 years however he has never encountered any incident where he felt afraid in the temple.
Politicians have also called out “hypocritical” behaviour of political parties and the attempt to sway youth. Ram Kankonkar, a TMC politician from Goa, spoke out on the heavy polarisation taking place at the hands of Hindutva parties. He presented a Bahujan perspective, and points out to what he calls the hypocrisy of the ruling powers and their monopoly over the Hindu religion, “I’m telling you one thing, in the name of the Hindu dharma you can’t fool people (I am also a Hindu). I am a proud Hindu but today this “natak” (drama) you are breaking statues. Hinduism runs in my veins but I am not like you. You are only using Ramas name for elections. Just for this and nothing else.” He addressed the youth who are involved in violent rallies, “You are who are roaming the streets shouting (loudly). you are spoiling god’s name. We don’t do that, we don’t shout “Jai Shree Ram”.” He states that the BJP is spoiling our god’s name, and asks where Ram has said that we must incite violence?
“We will not stand for this. Christians, Hindus, Muslims live together, and we like living together. Your politics is of divide and rule, why not focus on unemployment, petrol prices, education, fatal accidents and increase in crimes? But instead all you are doing is using Ram’s name. Does Lord Ram sit for elections? Shouting this on the streets doesn’t make us Hindus. Ram is in our hearts always, do the work like lord Ram did. I feel this is a complete collapse of democracy. God must be worried because of your behaviour. Today we have to build love more than hate. The immediate need is for us to educate ourselves. I want to tell our Bahujan Samaj, all of you who are sitting at home, for what are you being used?”
He addressed the people of the Bahujan Samaj, “Our children are made to fight and cases are lodged against us while their children study abroad. BJPs agents are measuring Bahujan Samaj people. I am telling you clearly, they are using you in the name of religion. Post elections they will forget about you.”