Thursday, June 13, 2024

MP: Following minister’s hate speech, 14 Muslims arrested in 7 days for entering garba venues

Several Muslim men have been arrested by Madhya Pradesh police in the past week in Indore after the members of the Hindu militant group Bajrang Dal handed them over to cops alleging they entered venues where Garba was being performed as part of the festivities to celebrate Navratri, a Hindu religious festival.

The arrest toll rises to 14 in Indore, according to Hindustan Times.

They were booked under section 151  knowingly joining or continuing in assembly of five or more persons likely to cause a disturbance of the public peace) of the Indian Penal Code.

This comes after a hate speech delivered by Madhya Pradesh’s culture and home minister Usha Thakur against Muslims who visit the Hindu festival venues.

“Garba pandals are becoming medium of love jihad and those who don’t have any faith in Maa Durga shouldn’t go to Garba,” state culture minister Usha Thakur had said on 9 September.

“Love jihad” is a term used by the Hindutva groups to describe an alleged phenomenon where Muslim men lure Hindu women into marrying them and converting to Islam. Hindu groups claim, without evidence, it is a conspiracy of an organised racket.

The home minister Narottam Mishra also announced that it was necessary to show identity cards before entering Garba venues. Controversial Hindutva figures including BJP MP Pragya Thakur and former chief minister Uma Bharti supported Usha Thakur.

Seven Muslim men were apprehended by Bajrang Dal members while they were allegedly taking pictures at a Garba venue in Pandrinath on 27 September. Police arrested them under section 151 and later released them on bail, according to the newspaper.

On 28 September, a Muslim man was arrested in a Garba venue at Palsikar Colony, and another Muslim from a pandal in Khajrana.

On 1 October, three Muslim men were arrested from Nandlal Puri Sabjimandi Garba Pandal and two Muslims from Bihar were arrested from Pandrinath garba pandal on 2 October.

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