Fly by night criminal minded organisations are trying to break the peace of our democracy. Pune incident is one such

Voices Thursday, June 05, 2014 - 05:30
By Vinita Deshmukh The otherwise peaceful city of Pune which held itself together harmoniously even during the post-Babri Masjid demolition, is unfortunately in national focus for a heinous crime. The fatal assault on a 24 year old Muslim youth by a fly-by-night organization, allegedly the Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS), which for two decades has been fanning communal fire by increasing its notorious activities in the fringe neighbourhoods of Pune. Last weekend, a mob went on a rampage in the upcoming locality of Hadapsar in Pune allegedly after morphed pictures of Chhatrapati Shivaji and Balasaheb Thackeray were put up on an apparently hacked Facebook page. An innocent software techie Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh, hailing from Solapur but working in Pune, was beaten to death. He was on his way back home on Saturday, at the same time when alleged members of HRS were returning, ironically, after a peace meeting held by the police. It seems, his beard and his cap was enough reason for the culprits to strike at him. Police have yet to confirm whether this brutal killing was directly connected with the FB posting but do not discount the possibilities. Whatever be the provocation, the fact is the shameful incident has taken place and it fits the bill of a crime against a community. Much ink has flown over the episode and the outrage is being expressed along with all kinds of interpretation that aim, more to insinuate, than condemn. These are being expressed particularly through social media and in stray cases, through careless headlines in newspapers and bytes on TV debates. It is to the credit of Pune Police and community leaders that the hatred has not spread like wildfire, although that part of Pune is tense. So, let us analyse the crime in the proper perspective. Firstly, there was another unfortunate incident of another techie a day before this incident. Varun Sethi was found murdered near the Hinjewadi IT Park where he works as an IT professional. It must be understood while Varun’s tragedy seems to be a case of robbery, Mohsin’s is a case of religious animosity. So, let us not cry foul over why the religion of Mohsin is being highlighted in the media. Secondly, while appreciating the Pune Police for putting its act together, it also holds the vicarious responsibility for this incident. Recently, on the FB page, the leader of HRS, Dhananjay Desai, poked fun at a police notice issued to him wherein he was warned not to give an inflammatory speech that would rouse sentiments of the audience which he was to address. Desai posted the police notice on his FB account and audaciously stated that he has been receiving thousands of such notices and could earn a few thousand rupees if he sold these papers. Why was the police doing a mechanical job of just warning him, as he has been creating nuisance since the last decade or more? In the early 2000s, there are police records of Desai desecrating religious places of several religions, in Pune, which had become a huge issue. There is also a police record of Desai attacking TV channels around that time, one of them being the Marathi channel ABP Majha, over some coverage. According to a social activist residing in the Hadapsar neighbourhood, Desai allegedly gathers teenage boys around him and insinuates hatred against a particular minority community. Says Mahesh Tele, the social activist, ``these boys are hardly aware of any communal hatred but they are asked to stop people wearing skull caps and donning beards to poke fun of them. Such micro groups are spread all over Hadapsar and have become a social menace.’’ Is the Pune Police not aware of these incidents? Has it lost touch on ground? Experts are crying hoarse over the police’s alienation of local informers which used to keep the city alert. Police officers confess that Pune has rapidly developed and its fringe neighbourhoods that have metamorphosed from village gram panchayats to municipal wards, are made of a different social and psychological ethos, which the police needs to study and take charge of. Finally, let us not get carried away by blaming political parties. In fact, all the political parties have shown immense maturity in their reaction. Let us understand that this is a job of a criminal minded organization which is trying to get the attention of political parties for its own political ambition. Since the late 1990s such dubious organisations have been sprouting purely to gather a mass base and get associated with some political outfit or the other. Should we give a fillip to these dastardly ambitions? In this case, clearly it is a question of the horrendous Act and the sternest action needs to be taken by the law enforcing authorities. Period. (Vinita Deshmukh is a Pune based senior journalist and RTI activist)