It could not get more frightening or uglier. A Facebook post could cost the life of an innocent person in as cosmopolitan a place as Pune. A young Muslim techie was attacked and beaten to death after someone else put up an FB post allegedly derogatory to the late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and the Maratha warrior king Shivaji. Mohsin Mohammed Sadique Shaikh had nothing to do with this, yet the goons from a Hindu extremist outfit thought nothing of murdering him. Not content with this appalling violence, the alleged killers then exchanged sickening messages saying “Pahili wicket padli” (the first wicket has fallen). This suggests that these criminals are under the impression that they are in some sort of position of power and can do pretty much what they like to the minorities. The police have arrested a number of persons in connection with the murder and seven have been charged. But the crux of the matter is that the goons, allegedly from the Hindu Rashtra Sena, acted with no fear of the law. If they had any misplaced sense of confidence that they could act like this since a Hindu nationalist party was in power at the Centre in alliance with the Shiv Sena, they must be disabused of this notion immediately.
The new government has declared that it would treat everyone equitably. This then calls for the strongest condemnation of this crime from the highest quarter. Union home minister Rajnath Singh, who made a special effort to reach out to the Muslims during the election campaign, must put pressure on the state administration to make sure that justice is done. And most definitely, the chief of the Hindu Rashtra Sena, a man who has many criminal charges against him and who has also been arrested, must be held accountable for the excesses of his men. If the State does not step in and make it clear that it absolutely does not condone such violence in the name of misplaced sentiment, whether religious or political, other miscreants may follow suit. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray should make it clear that no one is a self-styled defender of his father’s name and roundly denounce such acts.
The new government has enough on its plate without having to deal with such acts of intolerance. Narendra Modi’s campaign has been all about development and inclusiveness. Communalism has no place in today’s India and it must be nipped in the bud when it raises its head. The certainty and severity of punishment will dampen the enthusiasm of such goons who think that they are the self-appointed custodians of social propriety.