Why is RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha's social media activity under police scanner?
Have the Kolkata Police actually booked RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha on charges of inciting communal hatred for posting an innocuous photo of him visiting a temple with his octogenarian mother?
While the Delhi University professor continues to wonder how sharing a photo depicting praying with his mother at Ujjain's Mahakaleshwar temple can be the reason for an FIR, investigators are probing his social networks posts made during and after the Basirhat riots in West Bengal.
Sinha's anti-Mamata campaign
The Basirhat riots, which claimed one life, had the RSS-BJP baying for the dismissal of the Mamata Banerjee-led government in West Bengal, claiming the communal strife was a result of the Trinamool Congress's 'Jihadi links'. And leading the RSS campaign against the Trinamool regime was Sinha.
From accusing Banerjee of turning Bengal into a 'Jihadi laboratory' to calling for a 'Hindu resurgence' to combat communal forces in Bengal, Sinha has been constantly airing his views on social networks.
Participating in debates across news channels, the professor was relentless in his attack against Banerjee. He also uploaded short videos of the debates on Twitter, which were widely shared and endorsed.
With Banerjee expressing alarm over the deluge of fake videos and pictures on social networks aimed at fanning the communal fire, the administration began a crackdown, arresting BJP's IT Cell secretary Tarun Sengupta from Asansol, and booking Delhi BJP leader Nupur Sharma for circulating inflammatory pictures.
Incidentally, Sinha was also tagged in a social media post by Sharma, in which she had posted 2002 Gujarat riots pictures, passing them off as those from the riot-affected Basirhat.
Police say Sinha is trying to mislead people
Sinha called the 12 July FIR against him under non-bailable charges “vague and baseless”, and wondered how sharing a photo of a temple visit can be grounds for police action.
Besides Sinha, several right wing propaganda websites too have claimed that the FIR was lodged on the basis of his Ujjain temple visit photo. But the police assert the contrary.
“It is an attempt to mislead people. It's to show that the police action is baseless by claiming that the FIR has been registered merely on the basis of the photo of his temple visit in another state,” said a police officer.
There are also allegations that video clips of Sinha and many BJP leaders airing their views on Basirhat riots were widely circulated on social networks and WhatsApp to flare up communal tensions.
Three IPF publications
Also under the scanner are three publications from the Sinha-headed RSS think-tank, the India Policy Foundation.
The publications — “Culture & Pluralism of Bengal Under Seize [sic], State Patronage to Communalism”, “Mini Direct Action in West Bengal – Turning West Bengal into a Laboratory of Communalism” and “Communal Fascism, the Siege of Bengal's Culture and Plurality” — flay Banerjee for her 'appeasement' politics and “infesting the state with Islamic fundamentalists”.
The publications were released earlier in the year, but a media report on them came out on 10 July, which Sinha posted on Twitter. The post was retweeted by several hundred users.
According to claims, hard copies of the publication were recently distributed free of cost, and weblinks were widely shared on social media to make people aware about the rising 'Jihadi' threat in Bengal.
“Be it Sinha or the think-tank, they have the right to air their views and come out with study papers on any subject they want. There is nothing wrong with that. Problem is when they are used to fuel communal tension. It is the intent with which these views have been propagated,” said a police source.
Threatening phone calls
Meanwhile, Sinha has claimed he's getting threatening calls, and asserted he would continue his fight for nationalism.
“Mamata has unleashed her police and goons as well. Despite having no evidence, police were forced to act on Mamata's behest. And now, I have been getting constant threats over the phone,” said Sinha.
“My foundation has published three research-based documents on society, economy and culture of Bengal, and I have been vocal in TV discussions against her misrule. Furious, she is unleashing this vendetta,” he added.