Despite the Madhya Pradesh government’s repeated claims that there is no law and order problem and minority communities are safe in the state, there have been a number of instances of saffron brigade activists harassing and beating up people.
In 2016, more than half a dozen incidents have been reported in which saffron brigade activists thrashed members of the minority communities or imposed their diktat on youngsters in the name of dress code.
“The right-wing organisations in the state are running a parallel government and are implementing their own rules and regulations on minorities,” says Masood Ahmad Khan, secretary of Coordination Committee of Indian Muslims Unity.
“The government gives us false assurances and makes false promises that it will address issues of the minority communities but in reality it has never taken any concrete action against the saffron brigade,” he tells Hindustan Times. “Police are hesitant to take action against these activists due to political pressure.”
‘Both Christians and Muslims are being treated worse than animals’
Indira Iyengar, former member of the State Minority Commission, agrees. “Both Christians and Muslims are being treated worse than animals in the state,” she says. “The government takes no action against right-wing activists involved in incidents of violence against us. Leave alone taking action, officials don’t even have time to talk to us or meet us.”
Right-wing activists, however, justify the act, calling it “Newton’s third law of motion”. “Whenever a Hindu is thrashed or attacked, nobody highlights the incident. But, when right-wing activists, whose family members were hurt during Amarnath Yatra, beat up two Kashmiris, the media, rights activists and police start criticsing the act,” says Chandra Shekhar Tiwari, convener of Sanskriti Bachao Manch.
“We are not taking the law in our hands, we are just performing our social duty,” he says.
No spurt in incidents of violence against minorities: DGP
Rishi Kumar Shukla, state director general of police, however, denies that police are under political pressure not to take action against Hindu right-wing activists. “To say that there is a spate of incidents of saffron policing or incidents of violence against minorities is totally wrong,” he says.
“There have a few isolated incidents in the state in which police have taken stringent actions against the accused.”
“We are in regular contact with leaders of the minority communities to address their problems. We will take every necessary action to ensure the safety of minorities in the state,” he adds.
Yogesh Diwan, a civil society member says, “There is nothing like action and reaction. It’s all about political support for a particular ideology.” “Madhya Pradesh was a state where such problems were not heard of before but now incidents of saffron policing are on the rise,” he says.