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Lest we forget: When countless Muslims marched, went on a rampage and rioted demanding the head of Kamlesh Tiwari

While cattle thieves being beaten up by local farmers become topics for prime time debate, a man being jailed for a year and lakhs of Muslims, with their religious leaders openly calling for his beheading never got as much as a condemnation.

December 2015 saw absolute chaos in several towns and cities of India. There were massive protests in Ludhiana, Lucknow, Indore, Bengaluru, and Bhopal. Muslims groups were furious and were carrying out protests all over India. Saharanpur and Deoband saw thousands marching with placards in hand, shouting slogans, and clashing with police.

Similar protests were reported in many small towns too. In UP alone large-scale protests happened in Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Moradabad, Bareilly, Gorakhpur, Farrukhabad, Lucknow and several other districts. At Deoband, students of Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband, too, joined the protests.

These protests were all by Muslim groups. There were thousands of Muslims marching in each case. They were all demanding one thing. They wanted a Hindu Mahasabha leader named Kamlesh Tiwari dead.

“RSS volunteers are gay Vs Prophet Muhammad was gay”

The first of these violent protests were held at Saharanpur on December 2. Tiwari had stated that Prophet Muhammad was the first homosexual in the world.

Bhaskar headline

SP leader Azam Khan had stated that RSS volunteers are gay and hence they remain unmarried. Condemning Khan’s remarks, Kamlesh Tiwari had issued statements where he had termed Prophet Muhammad as the world first homosexual as he allagedly had sexual relationships with his associate Abu Bakr. Tiwari had also stated that Muhammad was also a rapist because he had married a 9-year-old girl and had raped her.

Within hours of local newspapers carrying the statements of Tiwari, there were massive riots in Sahranpur, Deoband and several other places in UP. Tiwari was immidiately arrested by the Akhilesh Yadav government and put in jail.

They wanted Kamlesh Tiwari’s head

On Friday, December 4, Anwarul Haq, the West UP general secretary of Jamiat Shababul Islam, a Muslim organisation, announced a Rs 51 lakh reward for “anyone who brings the head of Kamlesh Tiwari.”

It did not end there. Haq had stated, “After taking a consensus from all ulemas in the district, we have consulted all the Ulemas and have decided that Tiwari deserves the death sentence for this blasphemy and if the government fails to do it, we will do it ourselves”.

All India Imams Council (AIIC) state president Maulana Zulfi in Meerut had stated tha Tiwari has crossed all limits and the government should award him a death sentence.

The hundreds of students in Darul Uloom Deoband had joined the protests too. Highways were blocked, buses were burnt and despite Kamlesh’s arrest, the riots continued. They wanted his head.

image courtesy: Amar Ujala

Akhilesh Yadav and NSA against Tiwari

On December 5, All India Muslim Personal Law Board President Maulana Rabey Hasan Nadwi had met UP CM Akhilesh Yadav and demanded that tehre should be provision for death sentence over blasphemous statements. On December 9, Akhilesh Yadav had met Muslim clerics and promised the strictest action against Tiwari. On December 10, the SP government in UP had slapped the National Security Act against him.

The Hindu Mahasabha had condemned his statement and had clarified that though he is a decades-old member, he did not hold and official position at that time. They, however, had assured that Tiwari was in a crisis and the organisation will provide him with all possible assistance.

The Malda riots

As Tiwari remained in jail, riots and violence were, however, yet to be over. On January 3, Sunday, West Bengal’s Malda district saw over 2.5 lakh Muslims indulging in rampant violence, arson and clashes. They were demanding Tiwari’s head too.

Protestors in Malda torched over a dozen vehicles, including one belonging to the BSF. Hordes of Muslims attacked the Kaliachak police station, beat up the police officials and ransacked the station. Not satisfied, they also set fire to it and burnt it to bits.

Image courtesy: India Today, ScoopWhoop, and Indian Express

Several homes in the Kaliachak station area were also burnt. The protesting Muslims looted shops, and even attacked the locals.

Interestingly, it was later found that there was a special motive behind attacking the Kaliachak police station. It had a ‘Maalkhana’ where poppy crops confiscated from illegal poppy plantations in the district were stored. The station also had records and files of local smugglers, illegal opium farmers and traders, and cross border smugglers. All records were burnt.

Kaliachak is also known as the den of illegal currency smuggling network through Bangladesh border. The station also had records of all the criminals arrested and under investigation over the years in fake currency smuggling cases.

Indian Express report on Kaliachak riots

Kamlesh Tiwari’s jail sentence and bail

Kamlesh Tiwari ramained in jail for almost a year. After a lot of efforts, The Supreme Court had on August 27 ordered the Allahabad HC to decide on the legality of slapping the NSA against Tiwari. A month later. In September, the Allahabad HC finally gave its verdict on the habeas corpus petition filed by Tiwari’s wife and quashed the NSA against Tiwari. Tiwari got bail a while later.

Tiwari had later launched the Hindu Samaj Party in Lucknow.

Open calls for beheading

Tiwari’s statements had drawn widespread condemnations from all quarters. But the sad irony is that while the liberal media and intellectuals in our nation scream that the freedom of expression is under attack in Modi’s India, none of them stood up for Tiwari when lakhs of people were marching holding placards demanding Tiwari’s head. The placards had read “Gustakhe Nabi ko ek hi saza, Sar tan se juda” (The man guilty of speaking against the prophet deserves only beheading and nothing else), “Kamlesh hara** ko faansi do, faansi do” (hang Kamlesh the basta***), but there were no political leaders denouncing these shockingly regressive calls asking for medieval punishments for Tiwari. While cattle thieves being beaten up by local farmers becomes prime time debate, a man being jailed for a year and lakhs of Muslims, with their religious leaders openly calling for his beheading never got as much as a condemnation.

Read: Legacy of Kamlesh Tiwari: Regardless of motivations behind his murder, those who shielded Islamism and shunned him should be ashamed

Kamlesh Tiwari was murdered today. Two unidentified assailants came into his office concealing weapons inside sweet packets and killed him brutally. He was reportedly both shot and had his throat slit in the most barbaric manner. Photos of his body circulating on social media show multiple stab wounds on his body and his throat slit wide open with a sharp weapon.

Conclusion

Tiwari’s death raises a thousand questions. Will it see prompt action like the Akhilesh government’s swift imprisonment of him and the slapping of NSA? Will it even make our mainstream media question that why, in a twenty-first-century world, there were lakhs of people screaming for blood on the streets, calling for a man to be beheaded for something he had said, and how long will it take for the media, which had rushed in to assert that the murder of Bandhu Prakash and his family was ‘neither political nor communal’ hence it should not be hyped, to announce a complete failure of law and order in Yogi’s Uttar Pradesh and find ways to blame the ‘violent Hindutva ideology’ behind the gruesome crime?

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Sanghamitra
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