Even as the Uttar Pradesh government deployed additional forces in Muzaffarnagar to control a communal clash there, the BJP called a bandh on Thursday protesting “discrimination” against Hindus. Three people have been killed and many injured in the west UP town after alleged sexual harassment of a girl led to communal clashes.
In March 2013, UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said 27 communal incidents occurred in 2012 after he came to power.
Many fear a return to times when communal violence was common in UP. It peaked around the Ram temple movement. Curfew was imposed in many districts after the Babri mosque was demolished in 1992.
But communalisation declined over the years as the SP and BSP rode to power around caste mobilisation. With a core OBC vote created around Mandal polarisation, the SP in UP and the RJD in Bihar saw Muslims — who feared the BJP’s rise — as allies. Mandal politics left no scope for a “Hindu” vote and communalisation seemed passe.
But communalisation is staging a stealthy comeback, at least in UP, though caste is still central to the state’s politics. It may no longer be able to have the polarising communal effect of the Ram temple days, however.
“Increased communal clashes are because of the minority appeasement formula. There have been 53 riots in the state under the SP,” says BJP leader Shrikant Sharma.
The Congress, however, obliquely attacks the BJP. “Communal forces are trying their best to polarise the situation. This is in view of the coming elections. But the people of India are determined to defeat such forces,” says Congress spokesman Bhakta Charan Das.
“Rightist forces don’t find a potent political space in UP and Bihar any longer, and communalisation is the only way they can create it,” JNU sociologist Vivek Kumar says.
“Also, the UP administration wants to prove that it is pro-minority. The wall of the mosque in the Durga Shakti Nagpal case is but a way to depict to the illiterate masses that the administration is for them.”
The suggestion: communalisation suits the BJP and SP in UP, and the BJP in Bihar.
“Alienation and radicalisation of Muslim youth attracted to all-Muslim outfits also leads to chances of communal clashes,” a UP official suggests.
(With inputs from Aurangzeb Naqshbandi)