Varanasi poster row: Anger grows against RSS affiliates; complaint filed with NHRC, Cong demands timely action
Historian Dr Mohammad Arif said Mughal Emperors loved Ganga, drank its water and ate food cooked in the water fetched from the revered river
A day after RSS affiliates Bajrang Dal and VHP pasted posters on the Ghats along Ganga in PM Modi’s constituency Varanasi banning entry of non-Hindus which effectively means, Muslims – members of the civil society, human rights activists, historians, and writers have launched a multi-faced protest against the “imposition of Hindutva culture” in one of the most ancient cities of India.
The Congress party has also joined the people’s action against the saffronisation of the composite culture that Varanasi represents.
Notably, Muslims form around 28 per cent of the total population in Varanasi.
While a delegation of the residents met with the local administration, demanding action against the RSS affiliates, Varanasi-based human rights organisation PVCHR has filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (NHCR).
Calling the incident “a threat to the spirit of the Indian Constitution and right to movement as well as right to choose” the PVCHR headed by Lenin Raghuvanshi noted, “It is a threat to the spirit of Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam.”
Lenin urged the NHRC to save people from the evils of Hiter’s thinking and act accordingly.
Senior Congress leader Ajay Rai who had contested against Modi in Lok Sabha elections, said that the RSS and BJP are trying to disturb the communal harmony.
Talking to NH over the phone, Rai who has been leading the Congress’ resistance from the front against the ongoing saffron attack on the city said that all these tactics are applied to divert the attention from real issues and to create Hindu-Muslim divide during the polls.
“Wo mahaul kharab karne ki koshish kar rahe hain (They are trying to destroy the harmony),” said Ajay Rai adding, “The Yogi government has failed on all fronts…Did nothing in the last five years. So, in the end, to hide their nervousness they have deployed the RSS people to create tension so that the attention can be diverted from the real issues.”
Meanwhile, a delegation of the Congress party held a meeting with the joint CP (crime) Varanasi and handed over a memorandum, demanding action against the Bajrang Dal activists.
“The way swords were flashed during a rally and posters were pasted on Ghats along Ganga, it all points towards a sinister plan…If timely action is not taken this may precipitate in something serious,” warned the Congress delegation.
Dr Mohammad Arif, a Varanasi-based historian who is also known for his tireless works for maintaining communal harmony in the city since the 1990s after the Babri demolition, pointed out that the RSS-BJP does not have any agenda, other than dividing people into communal lines.
How can they bar non-Hindus which means Muslims here from the Ghats of Ganga? Ganga belongs to Muslims of this country in the same manner as it belongs to the Hindus, said Dr Arif.
Calling Varanasi – a confluence of diverse religious sects, cultures, religions, Dr Arif said, “Mughals used to drink Ganga water only. They called Ganga Aab-e-Hayat, the water of paradise.”
“Food for the Mughal Emperors right from Babur to Bahadur Shah Zafar was cooked in Ganga water only,” said Arif.
Saying that Muslims have contributed to building, shaping, and preserving Varanasi’s culture, Dr Arif recalled Mir Rustam Ali – a forgotten figure of Indian history.
“Mir Rustam Ali started the celebration of Budhwa Mangal Utsav which is dedicated to the old age form of lord Hanuman in Varanasi,” added Arif.
“Do they (VHP-RSS activists) even know that Ustad Bismillah Khan played Shehnai to mother Ganga every morning and poet Ghalib described Varanasi as Kaba-e-Hindustan ?” asked Arif who believe that Hindustan has been changed from within (by the right-wing forces).