This Durga Puja, Bangladesh witnessed yet another series of brutal attacks against Hindus, killing at least six people. Thousands of kilometres away in Osmanabad city of Maharashtra, a mob of over 150 people turned violent, pelting stones at vehicles and hoardings on the roads, injuring four policepersons. These two incidents may look distant, but the mindset behind them is the same – idolising a wrong icon that practised iconoclasm.
What started in Comilla, Bangladesh, is a classic case of indiscriminate communal rioting by a radical mob. A rumour of someone insulting the religious book by keeping it at the feet of Durga Murti in a Puja Pandal went viral and anti-Hindu violence erupted across Noakhali, Hajiganj, Chatogram etc. Many Puja Pandals celebrating Ashtami Puja during Navaratri were vandalised. ISKCON temple at Noakhali was attacked, killing two devotees, Pranta Chandra Das and Jatan Chandra Saha. Hundreds of Hindu houses were set on fire. Though Bangladesh Government and police reacted swiftly, many innocent lives faced the brunt of Jihadi vandalism. In the investigation, Bangladesh police found one Iqbal Hussain who placed the Holy book in the puja pandal with the malafide intent of instigating violence. In West Bengal, the newfound 'secular' hero Furfura Sharif, Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui, made a loud pronouncement of beheading people who insulted the religious book. Around the same time, a mob of around 200 people started pelting stones on vehicles and hoardings. Police personnel who went to control the situation were also attacked, injuring four of them. The reason for the violent eruption was an alleged 'objectionable' Facebook post against Mughal ruler Aurangzeb. According to the local reports, the vandalism started the night before when a Muslim group started removing a Hindu religious flag hoisted at the square during Navratri. Making a social media post against Aurangzeb an excuse, stone-pelting began the next morning. Isn't it ironic that the Mughal tyrant Aurangzeb, who destroyed several Hindu temples and imposed Jizya tax on infidels, Hindus, is still being celebrated as an icon by the Iconoclasts?
The pattern is not new. The Hindu festivals, mainly in which idol worship is intrinsic, were always targeted to vitiate the atmosphere since the Mughal rule. Before Mughals, invasions were carried out to establish Islam in Bharat by 'striking a blow at idolatry and polytheism' as pointed out by Babasaheb Ambedkar. Tyrants like Aurangzeb institutionalised this iconoclasm via legal means. In 1679, Saqi Mustad Khan, who served in Aurangzeb's court and wrote the emperor's authoritative life account, explained his decision as follows -: “All the aims of the religious Emperor were directed to the spreading of the law of Islam and the overthrow of the practice of the infidels.” Sadly, many intellectuals and 'eminent historians' take pride in whitewashing the bigotry of bigots like Aurangzeb and project any resistance by Hindus as communal. Throughout British colonialism, the same pattern continued, oscillating between minority victimhood & Islamic supremacism. Many in the Congress believed that Partition of Bharat would end this ‘headache’, which turned out to a misplaced illusion in Bharat and the partitioned territories of Pakistan and Bangladesh. We certainly need preventive, protective and punitive actions to deal with this. The beginning should be to recognise that iconoclasm and celebrating Icons like Aurangzeb is at the root of the Jihadi mindset, which will never allow diverse religious practices to co-exist.