New Delhi: Sangh Parivar’s fund-raising drive for constructing Ram Mandir in Ayodhya is not just for collecting money. More than that, it’s aimed at keeping the society polarised along communal lines.
Reports of threat, intimidation and even violence during the drive are enough indication towards this goal. In Delhi, the national capital, the Parivar has got a God-sent opportunity to advance their cause. A 25-year-old Rinku Sharma has lost his life in a group fight. And those accused of taking his life are – Zahid (26), Mehtaab (20), Nashruddin (36), Islam (45) and Tazuddin (36).
They all have been arrested. The story should end here. But it has not. Vishva Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal, the two important members of the Parivar in the fore-front of Ram Mandir campaign, have jumped in claiming that Rinku was killed because he was part of the fund-raising drive, a claim rejected by his mother, neighbours and even police.
The deceased and the accused have been friends and neighbours in Mangolpuri, a popular locality in the north-west of the capital. They had even business relations, running small eateries in their neighbourhood. They were so close that on the night of February 10, when the fateful incident happened, they were enjoying a birthday party. There, they had a dispute, perhaps on some business dealings. They fought and became violent, leading to the death of one of them. Rinku was stabbed and succumbed to his injuries by the time he was taken to hospital.
The grief of Rinku’s mother is understandable. But Radha Devi does not see any communal angle in her son’s murder. “Many other Muslims live here, two other families live right next to our lane, we say Jai Shri Ram, they offer namaz. There has been no such problem before. They are very nice people,” she is quoted as saying in the media.
Her other Hindu neighbours also swear by communal amity in their area. The accused and the victim knew each other well and even roamed around together, they claim.
Rinku’s family said he donated blood for a pregnant family member of one of the accused, and helped shift another’s relative to a hospital when they got Covid-19.
Even the police are categorical in saying that the murder is related to business rivalry and no communal fight is involved. There is no communal link in this crime, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Outer Delhi) Sudhanshu Dhama is quoted as saying in the media. “All the five arrested and the deceased are well-known to each other. Giving this case any other motive is factually incorrect,” he added.
Delhi Police PRO Chinmoy Biswal also made a similar statement.
But the Bharatiya Janata Party, VHP and Bajrang Dal are running a different campaign. Even the Aam Admi Party is seeking to raise Hindu sentiments.
Rinku’s younger brother Manu Sharma is a member of the Bajrang Dal and he has claimed that the murder was committed over the fund collection drive for the Ram Mandir.
VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders have started referring to Mangolpuri as a “mini Pakistan”. They have accused police of starting a “false narrative” in an attempt to “dilute the real problem”. During the last few days they have held a prayer meeting, organised protests and blocked the main road at Mangolpuri. The lanes of Mangolpuri resonate with slogans like “Jai Shri Ram”, “Rinku Sharma Amar Hai” and “Justice for Rinku Sharma”. And banners with his photo and writings like, “Why was he killed for saying Shri Ram?” are found at several places.
The families of the accused have left their homes, and police personnel have been deployed in the area to maintain law and order.
“Rinku worked hard for the Ram Mandir. The Muslims in the area didn’t like it, they hated the donation drive,” said VHP national spokesperson Vinod Bansal. “This is a crime against anyone who chants the name of Lord Ram and follows the Hindu dharma. Islamic jihadists have occupied the entire area.”
VHP International Joint General Secretary Dr Surendra Jain said, “We will take action ourselves if police continue to side with the culprits.” On Sunday, his organisation gave an ultimatum to police to arrest the remaining accused. There are 12, it is reported.
Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta has provided an assistance of Rs 5 lakh to Rinku’s family and demanded from the Delhi government to provide Rs 1 crore to the family.
The AAP, that heads the Delhi government, has responded with a language similar to any Sangh Parivar member. “The family of Rinku Sharma is saying that he was killed because of raising Jai Shri Ram slogans… Is raising the Jai Shri Ram slogans not safe now? In BJP’s rule, Hindus are not safe,” said AAP’s spokesperson Raghav Chadha in a press conference on Sunday.
Earlier, speaking to news channels, he said, “The situation is such that we can’t say Jai Shri Ram in our country. Will it be said in Pakistan, if not in India?”
Thanks to the sustained campaign by the Sangh Parivar backed by Arvind Kejrival’s party the narrative of Mangolpuri incident appears to be changing.
Family members of the five detained accused have claimed that it was Rinku who started the fight and brought the murder weapon — a knife — to attack them. The Print reports that it contacted Praveer Ranjan, Special Commissioner of Police (CP), Crime, through calls and messages to ask about injuries sustained by one of the accused and who had brought the knife to the crime spot, but he refused to comment on the matter. The Print also contacted S.N. Srivastava, Commissioner of Police, but no response was received till the time it published its report on Sunday.