Armed Ram Navami processions spook West Bengal

Lord Ram was no stranger to the land of Ramkrishna and Chaitanya but invasion of belligerent and armed Ram bhakts this year has divided Bengal like never before

PTI Photo
PTI Photo

NH Political Bureau

Half a century after the RSS introduced armed Ram Navami processions in Jharkhand, they surfaced this week in West Bengal with cries of ‘Bajrang bali Ki Jai’. “No Durga, No Kali, only Ram and Bajrangbali” was the war cry as processions, both on foot and on motorcycles, hit the streets.

In Bengal it’s now a fight between ‘Ramzade (born of Ram or Ram Bhakts) and Haramzade (illegitimate)’ declared the BJP state president Dilip Ghosh, who had earlier said, "Who is the police to tell us whether we will march with weapons or not? We will march with weapons on Ram Navami".

After the day passed ‘peacefully’, ‘Roar in the name of Ram’ read the headline of the front-page report in The Telegraph on Thursday. It was a report on the awesome show of strength put up on Ram Navami when the Hindu Jagran Manch, Hindu Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) claimed to have taken out 200 processions in the state, 22 in Kolkata alone, and put six lakh people on the road.

The Telegraph report noted, “From processions with swords, spears and bows and arrows to bike rallies festooned with saffron flags, the shows of strength ruled the roads in numerous pockets of Birbhum, Burdwan, Nadia, East and West Midnapore, Darjeeling and Malda.”

The show of strength sent shockwaves through the state unused so far to seeing children marching on streets with swords and daggers in hand. “Is this the India we want”, asked many on social media as a belligerent BJP state president declared that nobody could stop Hindus from marching with any weapon carried by Hindu gods and goddesses. In other words, there would be no restriction on people carrying swords, tridents, spears, bows and arrows, among other weapons.

While the chief minister Mamata Banerjee reacted with anger and warned against the divisive politics of the Sangh Parivar, the ruling party appeared to have played into the hands of the Sangh Parivar by themselves organising worship of Hanuman in several districts. The All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) was also at pains to point out that while the state government had declared a holiday on Chhath, the Centre had not.

Reacting to the insidious campaign on social media that the state government had stopped ‘Mangal Aarti’ in Dakshineshwar, the AITC trashed the claim in a Tweet:

The Union Minister referred to was Giriraj Singh, who seemed to be ignorant of the fact that the temple at Dakshineshwar was governed by a Trust and not by the state government.

Over the past several days, a large number of ‘Hindus’ in West Bengal are increasingly induced to believe that they are second class citizens. Relentless campaigns on social media have drilled into their heads that in the state Hindus are no longer being allowed to worship Saraswati either.

There has been a relentless campaign on social media on ‘minority appeasement’ by Mamata Banerjee, while attacking some of the Bengali icons.

  • A photograph of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, “The litterateur who truly deserved the Nobel prize. He was not afraid to speak the truth” was placed next to Rabindranath Tagore in one social media post which described Tagore as “ characterless, licentious, anti Hindu agent of foreigners and secularists who got the Nobel”
  • Another social media post described Michael Madhusudan Dutta as Bengal’s disgrace because of his conversion to Christianity in order to marry a foreign woman. The post sought a ban on the sale of his works.
  • Yet another right-wing social media group pointed out that since Vishnu is said to have taken the form of a fish, there should be a ban on eating fish.

The reaction has been mixed, with some comments on social media questioning why it was wrong to take out Ram Navami processions while Muharram processions were allowed.

While others reacted in anguish by pointing out, “They want to arm every hand with Trishul, while livelihood from every household is being snatched away. They want everyone to live for Ram, when right to life is at the mercy of those who fund BJP's communal campaign.”

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