With Diwali right around the corner, several states and cities in India, like Rajasthan and Mumbai, have banned the bursting of firecrackers during the festival due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. In Madhya Pradesh however, the sale of firecrackers has been taking place for days. All the old favourites are on offer, sold in the same boxes and packaging they have been for years, something we’ve come to expect every Diwali. However, groups of men in the state seem to have suddenly woken up to the fact that Indians burst a cracker called “Laxmi bomb” on Diwali, and that the crackers sometimes display images of gods and goddesses on their packaging. This has caused them to take great offence, and march to shops and threaten the proprietors with violence and arson for selling the offending crackers.
— NDTV (@ndtv) November 6, 2020
So confident are the men in their misguided righteousness, that they’ve filmed the interactions with the shopkeepers. Naturally, the videos have made it on to social media and been met with the expected outrage. In the videos, groups of men wearing saffron scarves favoured by Hindutva activists, openly threaten to burn down the shops of the vendors selling crackers like the Laxmi bomb. Coincidentally (or not), all the shopkeepers singled out for their threats in the videos appear to be Muslims.
This happened in Dewas, MP.
A mob of Hindutva people entered into a Muslim's shop and threatened him for selling firecrackers which had Hindu deity stickers.
Shopkeeper kept saying that he is not manufacturer but goons threatened to burn down his shop. pic.twitter.com/dOKH6IH8i0
— Md Asif Khan (@imMAK02) November 3, 2020
In a report by Indian Express, one of the shopkeepers from the videos was identified, and he confirmed that a mob had arrived at his stall to make threats. “Yes these people had come two days ago but we do not mean to hurt anyone’s religious sentiments. Whatever little stock with the images of the gods was manufactured from Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu. But it has been withdrawn and won’t be sold,” the report quoted him as saying, while also apologising for hurting any religious sentiments.
Member of Hindutva outfit Bajrang Dal threatened a shopkeeper, asked him to not sell firecrackers.
Threatening Shopkeeper for NRC Openly Call to Boycott Muslims
Why Don't threaten the Manufacturer of FireCracker Instead of Targeting Muslims#Islamophobia_in_india@IndiasMuslims pic.twitter.com/1vbBXwO10U
— faizan (@faizan0008) November 5, 2020
It appears that in their zeal to uphold Hindu traditions, the men making these threats have forgotten that Diwali is a festival of lights, not crackers.