Lord Ram, a virtuous god often prefixed “Purushottam” or the “greatest of all men”- would be ashamed today of his unvirtuous followers.Those followers who demanded 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari to chant Jai Shri Ram and beat him to death.
Ansari, was attacked by a mob in Jharkhand’s Kharsawan district on suspicion of theft. He was first beaten up mercilessly for hours on the intervening night of 17 June and later handed over to the police. His condition worsened on the morning of June 22. He was rushed to the hospital where he was declared dead on arrival. The primary accused Pappu Mandal — was arrested after his death.
When the news surfaced on Sunday, June 23, it was perhaps the frequency of the act, than the intensity, that was troubling. Lynching has become a passable offence now. One that raises eyebrows for a few days and slips into ominous silence days later. Killing in the name of Ram is, however, new to India. Perhaps, even new to Ram, for his name has for long been associated with peace and prosperity.
When a Pune based doctor was made to chant Jai Shri Ram in Delhi’s Connaught Place in May this year, he was amused. A practising doctor and author Arun Gadre told the media, “I was taking a morning walk at around 6 am near YCMA and suddenly a group of youth confronted me and asked me to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. As I was taken aback, I just said it. However, they insisted that I chant it loudly and asked me ‘uncle are you not Hindu?’.”
While Gadre was entertained, in April Prakash Lakda, a 50-year old adivasi from Jurmu village in Jharkhand did not survive a similar encounter. He was lynched on the suspicion of cow slaughter. Prakash had gone for skinning a dead ox along with three others. They sustained injuries, he did not. “The mob chanted slogans of Jai Shri Ram and Jai Bajrang Bali and also forced the victims to chant the slogans. They were beaten for refusing to chant the slogans or not chanting them loud enough,” the fact-finding report said.
Ansari is just another addition in the long list of kills by the masculine aggressive followers of Ram or those that pretend to be. Ironically, when Ansari succumbed to the murderous assault, was the same day when the Indian government rebuked the US for the state department’s 2018 International Religious Freedom report that criticized India’s growing intolerance. MEA spokesperson said: “India is proud of its secular credentials.”
The denial was blatant and outright, notwithstanding that the minority is in fear, the non-believers are panicking. It’s no more the mob that lynched for sake of lynching, it’s a charged mob, one that requires you to prove your religious credentials. This is a new reality, one that must be acknowledged than brushed aside. One that requires attention than dismissal, for Ram’s sake.