Last week when Uttarkashi erupted in anti-Muslim mayhem following an alleged kidnap and conversion of a Hindu girl by a Muslim and a Hindu youth, a news report done by the DFRAC in March stood vindicated. The report titled “Hate in Hills: Uttrakhand turns into hysteria of minorityphobia” was about some influential personalities whipping up communal cauldron in the Himalayan state. The tools these hatemongers used ((and are still using) were various social media platforms.
Link of the DFRAC report is https://dfrac.org/en/2023/03/28/hate-in-hills-uttarakhand-turns-into-hysteria-of-minorityphobia/. It is being published anew below for our readers to recall how hate was being manufactured.
What’s Happening in Uttarakhand Now?
Uttarkashi, one of the most religiously important towns of Uttarakhand, has been burning with communal tension for the last two weeks. Shops and houses of Muslims have been burnt and had the High Court not prevented a Mahapanchayat called by some radical Hindu outfits on June 15, there was likelihood more untoward incidents must have happened. The trigger for this spate of hate avalanche has been a May 26 incident in Purola hamlet of Uttarkashi district.
According to reports, two youths, namely Ubed Khan and Jitender Saini, abducted a local Hindu girl. Locals allege that it was a case of “Love Jihad” and the girl was pressurised to convert to Islam. Even though both the youths were arrested the next day, May 27, Hindus decided to organise a protest against Muslims.
On 29 May, a protest march in Purola turned violent after some of the agitators attacked shops and establishments belonging to the Muslims. A similar protest was held on 3 June, under the banner of Yamuna Ghati Hindu Jagriti Sangathan. Nearly 900 people took part in the stir.
Other Hindu organisations also came forward and organised rallies asking for actions against “Love Jihad” and even seeking closure of Muslim shops and other establishment in the state. These protests resulted in attacks on shops and houses belonging to Muslims.
On June 5, posters emerged in Purola market, threatening Muslim traders to close their shops and vacate the state by June 15.
While Muslim shops and houses were being rampaged, state chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami only sought to appease Hindu organisations and promised to take stern action against those involved in “Love Jihad”.
People of different faiths co-exist peacefully in Uttarakhand but things like love jihad will not be tolerated. Crimes like these were being committed as part of a conspiracy. But people are coming out openly against them now.
- Pushkar Singh Dhami
Feeble assurance from the state administration and the escalating tension has led to Muslims keeping their shops closed and some families deciding to leave the district. Till the time of writing this report, no Muslim shop has opened after they were closed on May 26 evening.
Icon of Hate in Uttarakhand
A Facebook profile (Radha Semwal Dhoni) is both popular and notorious in hilly state of Uttarakhand. It is popular among those who hate Muslims and want them expelled from the state. It is notorious for law enforcement agencies that are perturbed because of her incessant trouble-making and defying law on daily basis. The profile belongs to Radha Semwal Dhoni, a self-acclaimed Hindutva leader. Such is her menace that she has been sued by many BJP leaders.
She runs a vigilante gang that roams across the state doing moral policing and executing the Hindu nationalist mandate in the state. Dhoni claims that the mission of her vigilante group is to stop the alleged religious conversion drive carried out by Christian missionaries and Muslims in the state that threatens its demographic composition.
In one such video of her extrajudicial adventure that went viral, she and her goons abused and assaulted three Christian men and woman on the pretext that they were trying to convert Hindus to Christianity. The victims were, however, reported to be tutors and social workers.
She openly boasts of her high political contacts. Her audacity to take the law into her own hands in broad daylight testifies that she is in fact, assured of complete impunity by the state in her hate-filled anti-Minority drive.
Dhoni frequently employs the narrative that ‘Hindu khatre me hai’ (Hindus are in danger) and implores Hindus to unite against the supposed ‘threat’ of Muslims and Christians. She is of the view that Uttarakhand is the land of Hindu deities thus, the Muslim shrines and the Christian Churches should be removed from the state.
The DFRAC ran a quick scan of her Facebook posts shared only in the month of March to gauge the toxicity spread by her in the social media ecosystem.
- Her March 16 post was a video about some Muslim families settling on the outskirts of Uttarakhand. She sees these settlements as a plot of “Jameen Jihad (Land Jihad)” being waged by Muslims and exhorts Hindus to counter it. She says that Hindu houses are being converted into mosques by Muslims. Her post exactly reads: “Uttarakhand is surrounded by land jihad. There are 25 mausoleums in this road between Shimla bypass and Ponta Saheb on the land of forest department. And there are 10 such houses which have been converted into mosques and loudspeakers are installed above. Jai Shree Ram brothers!
- March 14 post of Dhoni reveals more into her mindset and her intents. In this post, she is challenging even BJP leaders who had filed cases against her for attempting to demolish mazars (shrines) in Uttarakhand. She says in her post: “Another lawsuit for religion. BJP people want mazars (tombs) to remain and Radha Dhoni wants tombs to be removed from Uttarakhand. So start your countdown, BJP people. If the people of Hindutva unite, then very soon you people will taste defeat. I am not afraid of such lawsuits, listen with open ears, I will still keep cleaning the tombs from Uttarakhand, no matter how many lawsuits are filed for this.”
- Radha’s March 10 post mocks law enforcement agencies further as she brags her adventures as a vigilante who harasses Muslim vendors by asking them to show their Aadhaar cards and in case they fail to do so, they are forcibly vacated from their squatting place. Her post reads: “Some people have showed off my previous post where I was asking vegetable sellers to show their Aadhaar cards. Show this video as well: I am asking for Aadhaar cards here too.”
- On March 5, Dhoni shared another post that should shame the state police and political leadership. She shared collage of pictures showing mazars (shrines) in various places in Uttarakhand. She claims to level them all and make the state free of mazars. She even dares to say that she will not care for laws and that she will do it herself if officials fail to do so. She also mocks those whose graves have been turned into mazars by calling them encroachers. Her post reads: “My aim mazar-free Uttarakhand. Action will be taken if it is on forest land. If any official doesn’t do his job, I will do my work honestly. कभी चौराहे, कभी प्लेटफॉर्म, कभी फ्लाईओवर की ज़मीन कब्जाता हूं, यूं ही नहीं हरी चादर ओढ़कर मे पीरबाबा बन जाता हूं
- Radha’s March 1 post is a video of vandalism of a mazar. Some young men are seen hammering a grave. No state official and policeman are seen in the video. Her post reads: “Show the registry, save the mazar. Uttarakhand is a devbhoomi (land of gods). Only gods will dwell here. The nature doesn’t speak a word, brothers. (Joshimath Kedarnath Dhari Devi). Remember, if you will spread dirt here, you will have to face consequences.”