When Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the gathering at Ayodhya on August 5, the day of the Ram Mandir bhumi pujan, he made a case for the temple becoming a symbol of unity in a country as diverse as India.
It’s unlikely—the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the subsequent riots and communal divide, the weaponisation of the religious chant ‘Jai Shree Ram’ by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its supporters and the attacks on and other-isation of Muslims have all left deep scars on the national psyche.
At the ceremony, Modi used the milder ‘Jai Siya Ram’, as if to symbolise that the war was now over, and spoke of harmony and inclusivity. But his words seem to have had no effect on his own supporters.
On Friday, just two days after Modi’s speech on unity, a Muslim auto rickshaw driver was brutally beaten up for allegedly not chanting ‘Modi zindabad’ and ‘Jai Shri Ram’.
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Gaffar Ahmed Kacchawa’s attackers have been arrested by the police in Rajasthan. “Two people came out of the car and started beating me. They slapped me and asked me to say ‘Modi Zindabad’. They also pulled my beard,” he told ANI.
The attack took place at 4 am on Sunday, according to the FIR registered in the case.
The attack on Kacchawa brought back traumatic memories of the many incidents of violence perpetuated on Muslims, often randomly, since 2014. While Kacchawa is alive to tell the story of his attack, Pehlu Khan, who was beaten by a mob in Alwar in 2017, died of his injuries. All the accused in the case of his death have...