Bihar is on the boil though a lot of what is happening on the ground is being ignored by the national media. We reproduce the following social media post by an ‘observer with an opinion’ to highlight the dangerous drift in the state:
Bakr’id this year is round the corner, on September 2 in fact. And according to various reports, local authorities in Bihar have asked every Muslim family which plans on a “qurbani” to get itself and the concerned animal registered in the local municipality /ward and to get the animal duly tagged and numbered.
This is an unprecedented intrusion into the personal religious practice sanctioned by centuries old tradition and is fraught with all kinds of risks. This has also caused apprehension and a dread of what might unfold on Bakr’id. Predictably there is considerable resentment and Muslims across the state feel betrayed by the Bihar chief minister.
That is not all. Insidious attempts by VHP and Bajrang Dal activists to change Muslim - sounding names of villages or thanas or Block headquarters by ripping out milestones and signposts and replacing them after public poojas in front of gaping crowds is not being reported by the national media but local channels are freely airing these incidents followed by incendiary debates on them. But Nitish Kumar’s administration has remained a silent spectator.
On Sunday the 13th of August, barely 30 miles out of Patna in neighbouring Vaishali district, the name of Jalalpur Block was sought to be changed to Jatashankar; and village Shahpur Qasim to Shivpur by Bajrang Dal activists.
They rounded up people living in hutments on the side of the main highway. They placed a banana leaf in the middle of the highway, covered it with vermilion, swastika, flowers, cowries, coins and coconuts; and performed a puja following which rough and ready signboards of the new names were installed after uprooting the existing signboards with the so called “Muslim” names. No one from the administration interfered in the ‘Sanskritised’ rechristening process.
A TV debate on a local channel that followed this incident had a BJP spokesperson, a Congress spokesperson and a Bajrang Dal activist on the panel. When the anchor enquired why the name of the village or Block needed to be changed and why they were changed without following laid down procedures and through government intervention, the BJP and Bajrang Dal representatives spoke in one voice.
Their answers were in two parts. The first part was to declare arrogantly and with a complete sense of entitlement that finally “their government” had taken over the state, so why should they not be able to do what they have been waiting to do for hundreds of years?
The second part of their response was in the form of a belligerent question. Why should they allow historical injustices inflicted upon a ‘Hindu’ nation by cruel unjust foreign Muslim rulers to continue even a minute longer?
They argued that the ‘universally acknowledged’ truth of oppressive Muslim rule of 800 years over Hindu India and the change in Govt to a Hindu Nationalist Govt gave them natural justification and authority to immediately put into practice the 'will of the majority' and their felt need of hundreds of years !
When asked by the Congress representative how they chose the new names and whether they had any evidence that Jatashankar and Shivpur were indeed the names of those places prior to alleged Muslim rule over India, they responded by claiming that it was accepted that there were no Muslims in their area before the Muslim conquest; it therefore logically followed that everyone was Hindu earlier and Lord Shiva being a Hindu god, his various names were quite appropriate and acceptable, even if there were no historical evidence of what the places was called before.
On Independence Day 2017, the Bajrang Dal took out a “Tiranga Vijay Yatra” in Danapur on the outskirts of Patna, where they ended up provoking people near mosques and madarsaas so that a mini riot broke out between communities and the Rapid Action Force had to be called out.
Attempts to make beef and transportation of cattle an issue in Bhojpur within two days of the new alliance taking office had set the stage for the new culture. The arrogant announcement “Ab hamaari Sarkar hai” and police lodging cases against victims, not attackers, created simmering resentment among Dalits and minorities throughout the state.