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Munger firing: Is it a crime to worship Maa Durga, asks Congress

Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala. File   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

The Congress on Wednesday asked if it is a ‘crime’ to worship Maa Durga, referring to Monday night’s police firing in Munger that killed a 22-year-old youth and injured several others while they were on their way to immerse an idol of Goddess Durga.

The party, however, denied that it was trying to politicise the issue in the midst of the Bihar election and asserted that it would speak up for any community, caste or religion if they were ‘brutally’ targeted like the devotees of Maa Durga.

Since Tuesday, the Congress — which is part of the grand alliance in Bihar and kept its campaign focussed on issues like unemployment — has held three press conferences on the firing and dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to dismiss the Nitish Kumar government for targeting the bhakts [devotees] of Maa Durga’.

“Prime Minister Modiji, if you have any wisdom left, then you should dismiss this government that fired upon the devotees of Maa Durga in such a cruel manner...If you don’t do so, then it will be proven that sanskar [tradition] and sanskriti [culture] are only a means to achieve power and not a matter of faith for the BJP, Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala told reporters at a joint press conference in Patna with Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Tejashwi Yadav on Wednesday.

While Mr. Yadav asked for a court-monitored probe and asked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, also State’s Home Minister, who allowed the Bihar police to be General Dyer [Reginald Dyer of Jallianwala Bagh notoriety], the Congress asked the BJP to explain its ‘silence’.

“Is it now a crime to do Durga Puja?” asked Rajya Sabha MP and senior spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi at another press briefing. “The devotees were being ‘chased like animals and treated like worms’,” he said.

Mr. Singhvi, however, vehemently denied that the party was trying to polarise by playing the ‘Hindu card’, something it often accuses its rival, the BJP, of resorting to during elections.

“Where is the politicisation in this? Maa Durga is a deity that unites us all. Was there a terrorist there [among the devotees] that you behave in such a barbaric manner? And when we question this, then we are asked about the ‘Hindu’ card. Yes sir, we are playing the humanity card,” Mr. Singhvi responded.

“It is the most cruel and despicable act and we will continue to raise our voice. And we will continue to raise the same voice if any other community, caste or religion has been attacked in this brutal fashion for worshipping the deity.”

The Congress spokesperson also sought to contrast how the Nitish Kumar government was “mercilessly beating up devotees” while the crime graph has soared 150% in his 15-year rule. Citing data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), he said crimes in Bihar had gone up from 1.07 lakh cases in 2005 to 2.69 lakh cases in 2019 and riots had increased by 40% during Mr. Kumar’s rule.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2020 10:32:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/munger-firing-is-it-a-crime-to-worship-maa-durga-asks-congress/article32963511.ece

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