Communal harmony and tolerance are what India needs more than ever in today’s testing times. However, there seems to be a rivalry and a vindictive mentality in the incidents of the last few days where members of both Hindu and Muslim communities tried forcefully to offer prayers in the other communities’ religious place. Following the incident of Muslim youth offering namaz inside the ancient Nand Baba temple in Mathura’s Barsana town, a group of Hindu men entered the Idgah in Goverdhan to recite Hanuman Chalisa on Tuesday morning.
As the video of the Hanuman Chalisa recitation went viral on social media, the police arrested all four men in the afternoon. Although no complaint has been filed with the police, the Mathura SSP Gautam Grover, who was present in Goverdhan at the time of the arrest, said that all four have been arrested for trying to disturb the peace in the region.
According to The Indian Express, Superintendent of Police, Rural Mathura, Shirish Chandra said: “It was brought to our notice through social media that some men read Hanuman Chalisa at an eidgah in Govardhan area. While it was claimed that the act was to promote peace, it was done in a wrongful manner. The four have been issued challans under Section 151 of CrPC. No complaint has been received against them.”
The four men, Saurabh Lumberdar, Raghav Mittal, Kanha, and Krishna Thakur claimed that they recited Hanuman Chalisa inside the Idgah to spread a message of communal harmony, just like the Muslim men tried to do when they offered namaz inside the Nand Baba temple in Barsana. One of them claims to be a local leader of BJP’s youth wing.
The four men, aged between 18 and 25, entered the Idgah on the Goverdhan-Barsana road and recited the Hindu prayer. They were produced in the court of Goverdhan sub-divisional magistrate Rahul Yadav, who ordered their release on a surety of Rs 2 lakh each.
The incident comes days after police arrested a man and booked three others after a video clip showing members of their group offering namaz in the premises of a temple in Mathura surfaced on social media.
According to the available information, Alok Kumar and Nilesh Kumar had arrived from Delhi to perform the Braj 84 kos parikrama in Mathura. Two of their Muslim friends Faisal Khan and Mohammed Chand were also accompanying them.On the way, when it was time for namaz, the two Muslim youth offered their prayers at a secluded spot inside the Nand Baba temple premises.
Faisal said that his religion is love and he has experienced love on the soil of Braj. He said that he will light lamps on Diwali in the name of Lord Ram. He said that he did not have any idea that he would require permission to offer namaz inside the temple. He said that if he had known that a simple act of love and communal harmony could light up like wildfire, he would have avoided it altogether.
Meanwhile, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader Manupal Bansal also entered a mosque and recited ‘Gayatri mantra’ and ‘Hanuman Chalisa’, in the Khekra area of Baghpat district. According to The Hindustan Times, Bansal, who is also associated with the RSS-supported Population Solutions Foundation, said he did this to spread a message of communal harmony and sought permission from the ‘hafiz’ (religious leader) of the mosque.
India in the last few years has witnessed multiple incidents of communal rivalry, hatred based on religion, and the unwillingness to co-exist in symbiosis. It is very important to set examples of brotherhood and fraternity and identify citizens in the common thread of Indians and not let the country be fragmented by shallow walls of intolerance. Unless it was intentional malice on part of members of both communities, the incident should not be cast as something that was ‘deliberate’ in order to belittle the other community or disrespect the other’s beliefs.