And now, housing apartheid against Muslims in Yogi Adityanath's UP?
Amid all the talk of BJP leaders giving credit for the party's victories in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh to its “politics of development”, a shocking case has been reported from the BJP-governed Uttar Pradesh. In an example of housing apartheid on communal lines, a Muslim family in Meerut was forced to return a property it had bought from a Hindu seller in a largely-Hindu locality.
Noman had purchased a house from Sanjay Rastogi in Maliwara locality for Rs 22 lakh, but when he and his family went to take possession, they were welcomed by protests from residents. In an indicator of this being an organised effort, the protests were reportedly led by BJP corporator Sandeep Goel and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) general secretary Deepak Sharma.
When local police intervened in the matter, the solution it led both parties to arrive at ended up restoring peace, but at the cost of justice and a constitutionally-mandated civil liberty. Both Noman and Rastogi were taken to the police station, where a compromise was reached, according to which Noman would leave the house and Rastogi would refund him the amount paid.
Sharma even gave a statement to media, saying without a hint of apology – “This in an old city area...Hindus are continuously selling properties and Muslims are buying them. Their culture, thoughts and way of life are different from us. It starts with one house and slowly, the whole area will become Muslim dominated. We cannot allow this to happen.”
There are reports that this is not an isolated case.
Radical Hindutva-groups have reportedly identified what they believe is a concerted campaign of “land-jihad”, wherein Muslims take control of government land and properties and also slowly overtake Hindu-dominated neighbourhoods.
Organisations like Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal, the usual suspects in such cases, are reportedly planning to “campaign aggressively” on this issue.
These reports come close on the heels of similar radical groups protesting against the celebration of Christmas in schools across Uttar Pradesh. Earlier this month, a prayer meet at a Christian family's house near Mathura was also disrupted and cases filed against the family as well as the priests involved.
Before that, Uttar Pradesh has seen a crackdown on mutton shops and cattle trade, run largely by Muslims, guidelines for madrasas, slashing of the annual Minority Welfare budget, state government celebrating Hindu-festivals and public stunts pushing for the construction of Ram Temple. Before that, the bogey of exodus of Hindus from Kairana in Shamli district was raised by several BJP leaders.
This is a concerted campaign against religious minorities that the BJP and its sister organisations that are all a part of the larger Sangh Parivar are running. It is unfolding in other states governed by the BJP as well, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh being the prominent ones.
However, it is becoming quite brazen and pronounced in UP, where the chief minister is the sitting head of a Hindu monastery and he has got his entire secretariat painted saffron.
The incident in Meerut appears to be just a small fraction of the full import of Adityanath painting the seat of the state government saffron. It appears to have signaled to fundamentalist foot-soldiers of Hindutva that they can unleash the brute force of their campaign in the state and no-one will stop them. This may well be only the beginning.