Just after the BJP victory in Lok Sabha elections, in June 2014, a young Muslim IT professional Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh was brutally beaten to death on a Pune street by the Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS) mob wielding hockey sticks and stones. In a case of premeditated communal hate crime, Mohsin was targeted for the markers of his Muslim identity – beard, skull cap and Pathani suit – as he was on his way back from offering evening prayers at a mosque. After the brutal violence and killing of Mohsin, members of the HRS gang even shamefully exchanged a jeering message on their mobile phones that read pahili wicket padli (the first wicket has fallen) after BJP’s victory. Now the Bombay High Court has shamelessly granted bail to three of the 21 arrested in the Mohsin murder case. In her January 12 order, Justice Mridula Bhatkar shockingly observed that “the fault of the deceased was that he belonged to another religion. I consider this factor in favour of the applicants/accused. More-over, … it appears that in the name of the religion, they (the accused) were provoked and have committed the murder”.
The bail order in the Mohsin case chillingly reminds us of several such travesties in justice. These judgments are no different from the society issuing moralized “suggestions” such as appropriate clothing for women to avoid rape and in cases of racist violence and attack on people from the north-east, police forces blaming their “smelly” food habits as reason enough for provocation! It is in similar justifications like this issued by the judiciary and state machinery, where the very existence of marginality becomes a ‘provocation’ for violence.
AISA expresses deep shock and condemnation at the absurd bail order and observation by the Bombay High Court and its utter failure to deliver justice to the victim of minority hate-crime and demands strictest punishment against the HRS culprits.
The saffron right-wing has always indulged in a vicious communal propaganda and tried to shape the mainstream political and media discourse against religious minorities with constant mischievous references to ‘love jihad’, ‘pink revolution’, ‘illegal Bangladeshi immigrants’ and ‘Pak terrorists’. The shocking observations by the Bombay High Court order has the danger of conferring “legal” sanctity to communal prejudice and violence that is being sought to be normalised in the country. It is high time that we reassert that country must be governed by Constitutional morality, Constitutional rights and Constitutional principles and not by majoritarian prejudice. The Supreme Court must take suo motto cognizance of the shocking Bombay High Court observations and annul the order. In these dark times we must intensify our collective struggles against this grave injustice and resist this communal “commonsense”.