A shocking incident has come to light from Bisru village in Haryana’s Mewat (Nuh) where Muslims tried to desecrate Hindu idols inside a temple complex and then brutally assaulted the priest, his wife and several others when they tried to object. This event came to my attention through the website Hindupost.in.
According to local media, Prahladi, the wife of the temple priest Vedram came to fill water around 8 AM in the morning from the tap located inside the temple premises.
At that point she noticed that two Muslim men, Aleem and Raka, were inside the temple touching the idols in a highly inappropriate manner. When Prahladi tried to object, she was first verbally assaulted. Later, when her husband Vedram came to the spot, he was beaten up and Prahladi was even dragged around by her hair. When some local Hindus came to the spot and tried to resist, the two Muslim men summoned a mob of around 18-20 men who arrived in Bolero cars and motorcycles. Prominent among them were Jamshed (son of Mahmooda), Major (son of Mahmooda), Kallu (son of Rahman) and Taleem (son of Jarjesh). In particular, Taleem used an iron rod to hit one of the Hindus (Rohtas, son of Ram Singh) on the head and strike him down unconscious.
This shocking incident raises two important issues.
First, it brings to light yet again the problem within Muslim society of carrying out violence against “non-believers”, especially those who are seen as worshipping idols. Another instance we can easily recall comes from this Opindia report about a Hindu sadhvi from Delhi putting her temple up for sale because she could no longer deal with the harassment and meat throwing by members of the Muslim community.
Within Islam, the practise of idol worship or “shirk” is seen as an unforgivable offense. The hateful attitudes and prejudices shaped by this are naturally a big problem in India, where vast numbers of Hindus prefer to have idols in their homes, their temples and pray to several deities. As seen in this instance above and several others, Hindus in India regularly come under attack from Muslim groups with hardline views against idol worship.
As with most social evils, the problem of violence by Muslims against idol worshippers needs to be tackled at two levels : at the legal level and at the social level.
At the legal level, we first need to frame strict laws protecting those who come under attack for worshipping idols. This should broadly take the form of something like a Prevention of Atrocities Act that would cover everything from idol desecration, to targeted violence against idol worshippers to social boycott and harassment of any person because he/she worships idols. There should also be an autonomous commission constituted by the government where victims can report such crimes independently and receive justice.
At the social level, we need NGOs & media, perhaps with government support, to run awareness programs among the Muslim community to explain the evils of prejudice against non-believers and/or idol worshippers.
The second issue that this incident raises is that of media coverage and the way we collect data. As seen in a widely reported and widely appreciated recent analysis of cow related violence by IndiaSpend, the standard way to collect data on mob violence is through Google searches of English language media.
This methodology also appears to be endorsed by distinguished academics such as Prof. Ashutosh Varshney, who constructed his celebrated (Varshney – Wilkinson) dataset on Hindu-Muslim violence on the basis of reports from Times of India, Mumbai edition.
However, in the case of this incident from Mewat, it does not seem to have been covered by the English language media. I say this of course on the basis of my Google searches through English language media, just like IndiaSpend did.
As such, this shocking incident from Mewat and the failure of English language media to report it raises serious questions for the credibility of the “data” on mob violence that is being circulated about our country in both academic and media circles. For the sake of academic integrity, we do hope that those who support the “English language media methodology”, such as the data journalists at IndiaSpend and senior academics like Prof. Varshney will have a good explanation.