Massive Hindutva march turns Shivaji Park into sea of saffron late Sunday morning
Members of right-wing organisations take part in the Hindu Jan Akrosh Morcha from Shivaji Park in Dadar, to Kamgar Maidan in Prabhadevi, on Sunday. Pics/Shadab Khan
A group of Hindutva organisations, supporters and individuals turned up at Shivaji Park, Dadar on Sunday morning. Different groups—with men, women and some children—gathered at the Hindu Jan Akrosh Morcha, held by Sakal Hindu Samaj, winding from the Meenatai Thackeray statue at Shivaji Park towards Prabhadevi’s Kamgar Maidan. There were a plethora of banners about opposition to love jihad, dominating the narrative.
Participants were taken to the venue by buses, but many of them were locals, taking a break from their routine Shivaji Park morning walks or runs to trade spandex for saffron. One group of gents, waiting for the march to start, said, “We are here to protest love jihad. This is a fallacy that love jihad happens only in rural areas or is absent from Maharashtra. We want the government here in the state to bring in legislation against love jihad. This cyclone should not hit our homes. There are some states that have legislation, what about here?”
When told that some so-called ‘love jihad’ cases may be a matter of choice between a Hindu woman and Muslim man, the three men questioned, “What is the nature of love? Does it mean when you quarrel, you cut your girlfriend into 35 pieces and put her head in the fridge?” They were referring to the Shraddha Walkar case.
Even as they spoke, buses emptied out with occupants shouting ‘vande mataram’ and ‘jai shree ram’. Other protesters said, “There are other faiths such as Parsis, Sikhs, Jains; why do we not see them brainwashing people?”
Leaders of different outfits were gathering people at one spot, with one woman warning, “Let us march together in complete discipline, giving vehicles a way to go through. Even people on pavements must be allowed to pass. Order is key, remember one mistake by us will show Hindu society in an adverse light.”
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The ‘land jihad’ concept also made its mainstream debut here. Land jihad, an adaptation of love jihad, is when Hindus accuse Muslims of acquiring lands or areas through “harassing” Hindus or illegal acquisition. The term is gaining currency after several references to it in Assam, with voices claiming it was done deliberately to skew the demographic equation in Assam for a Muslim takeover. In Mumbai, when asked about land jihad, several respondents said, “Illegal masjids and structures in the suburbs are the beginnings of land jihad. We are awakening people to the concept itself. It is only when they know about it, that they will realise what is happening.”
The wake-up cry extended to the civic authorities, too. Several placards read: “BMC hosh me aao, land jihad pe rok lagao’. Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) Shriraj Nair at the march spoke about “security threat to the city because of so many illegal structures and places of worship.”
Conches blew as the procession started at 11 am. BJP leader Ashish Shelar was being greeted with gusto, with some running along for a photo. A couple of participants said, “We want people to have pride in their country. See the Chinese, the Japanese, they are extremely proud of their nation. For the Chinese, it is only China. For the Japanese, it is only Japan. In love jihad, young women are being deceived by men, who are masquerading as Hindus, changing names, falsifying identities and then being lured into being with them and changing their religion.”
Several people in the march denied any kind of radicalisation. “We all want to be one. We have Muslim friends. We do not want the country to break up or sow divisions. We hold former President A P J Abdul Kalam as an example. The community must look at him. There are others like Abdul Hamid, Indian Army soldier who posthumously received India’s highest military decoration, the Param Vir Chakra. See what an example they set,” claimed the contingent.
Time on Sunday when the march started