As central Chhattisgarh still reels from an incident of communal violence on April 8 and the subsequent Hindu mobilisation by right-wing organisations, a video of a gathering of 70-80 people has surfaced.
Said to be from a protest event in Jagdalpur held as part of a day-long Chhattisgarh bandh on Monday, activists of the BJP and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) are seen taking a pledge of economic boycott of Muslims and Christians in the presence of BJP leaders from the Bastar region, including former Bastar Lok Sabha MP Dinesh Kashyap and royal scion Kamal Chandra Bhanjdeo.
Mr. Kashyap said while he was present at the event, he did not take the pledge. “We were only sitting there and had gone to attend the protest against the Bemetara incident [in Biranpur village on April 8],” he said.
Earlier, The Hindu had learnt that a call for economic and social boycott of Muslims had been made by right-wing groups in Biranpur village in January after an interfaith wedding in the village.
The violence on Saturday had left a man named Bhuneshvar Sahu dead and three policemen injured. Two more residents from a different community were found murdered near the village on Tuesday and the police suspect a correlation.
The BJP and the VHP have been since accusing the State’s Congress government of compromising on the safety of Hindus, while the ruling party has hit back with allegations of spreading hatred in the name of religion. On Wednesday, Mohan Markam, Chhattisgarh Congress president and a prominent tribal face from the Bastar region, alleged that the pledge was taken on the directions of the BJP. “Action should be taken against them,” he said.
‘Put up signboards’
In the video, the person administering the pledge – Mukesh Chandak, a VHP functionary according to the police – says that apart from an economic boycott of “non-Hindus, be it a Muslim or a Christian”, all Hindus should have signboards in their shops and business institutions indicating that they belong to Hindu owners.
The Chhattisgarh police said they have received several complaints about the recent pledge. “We have taken cognisance of the incident. We are going through the video and have also spoken to some of the individuals who were present. Prima facie it is a case of discrimination on the basis of religion,” said Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) P. Sundarraj.