Two BJP MLAs – controversial Telangana legislator Raja Singh, and Maharashtra MLA Nitesh Rane – were among those booked for delivering hate speeches at a ‘Hindu Jan Aakrosh’ rally in Solapur, Maharashtra on Saturday, January 6. Raja Singh, who is accused in several hate speech cases in Telangana for making communally polarising, anti-Muslim remarks, made several inflammatory statements at the event in Solapur. He instigated the crowd to assault ‘love jihadis’ and boycott products with halal certification. He also called for demolition of mosques in contested sites claimed to have formerly housed Hindu places of worship, and suggested that the Maharashtra government provide bulldozers to MLAs and MPs to be used like Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath does.
‘Love jihad’ refers to a bogey spread by right-wing organisations alleging that Muslim men ‘trap’ Hindu and Christian women into marrying them and forcing them to convert to Islam. The BJP has made it a major election issue across the country for many years, despite the BJP-led Union government telling the Lok Sabha that no case of love jihad has been registered by any central agencies. Bulldozers, on the other hand, have become a symbol of the BJP governments’ style of providing ‘instant justice’, by demolishing homes under the garb of clearing illegal encroachments, often targeting Muslims
Nitesh Rane, son of Union Minister Narayan Rane, also allegedly spoke about ‘jihadis’ and demolishing mosques. The rally in Solapur was held between Rajendra Chowk and Kanna Chowk and was attended by leaders of the Sakal Hindu Samaj, an umbrella body of several Hindutva outfits, whose office-bearers were also named in the FIR. The case was registered under Sections 153A (creating enmity between two different groups on grounds of religion), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and others of the IPC, according to PTI.
Speaking at the rally, Raja Singh told the attendees that if they want to make ‘Bharat’ a ‘Hindu Rashtra’, they must send a message to Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde that if his government doesn’t teach a lesson to those doing ‘love jihad’ and ‘gau hatya’, people would take matters into their own hands. Invoking Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji, Raja Singh used Islamophobic slurs to refer to Muslim men and called on people to assault those who do ‘love jihad’. He even called on people to boycott products with halal certification, claiming that proceeds from sales of such products are used to ‘fund love jihad’.
“We are fortunate Hindus who are able to witness Akhand Hindu Rashtra being built,” he said. He also used the term “land jihad”, alleging that the Waqf Board was trying to claim lands belonging to Hindus. He said that under the Narendra Modi-led Union government, the Waqf Board lands in Maharashtra would be used to build housing, colleges, hospitals, and stadiums for Hindus, especially immigrant Kashmiri Pandits and Hindu refugees who have fled Pakistan.
“The way Yogi Adityanath runs bulldozers on love jihadis, the Maharashtra government should also buy and keep some bulldozers. They must gift them to MLAs and MPs and tell them to use them, we’ll see who will do ‘gau hatya’ then,” Raja Singh said.