Hindutva activists including BJP leaders have been running a vicious campaign of economic boycott of Muslims through hate speeches, violent protest and communalizing the civic issues and personal issues of the vendors.
According to a report published in the news website The Wire, the economic boycott of Muslims recently came to light when on June 18, a Muslim fruit vendor was brutally beaten up by a mob chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in Delhi’s Uttam Nagar.
“It started because of a petty fight between a fruit vendor and shopkeeper. However, many anti-social elements got involved and communalised this matter. Later, one of our vendors named Rizwan was targeted by a mob armed with sticks and rods. He was grievously injured and admitted to Deen Dayal Upadhyay hospital. Instead of arresting the criminals, the police are harassing the street vendors now,” Ajay Singh, the leader of the fruit vendors in west Delhi, has been quoted by The Wire as saying.
“For a long time, this communal build-up was being allowed because of ulterior motives. I had complained to the Police that this can disrupt peace and even provoke riots in the area,” Singh said.
Rizwan received serious injuries and the FIR describes an attack which is clearly communal in nature, yet Delhi Police did not invoke the relevant – and more serious – IPC sections (i.e. 153, 295 or 505) and instead weakened the case to one of ordinary assault, the report says.
Two days later, some activists from Hindutva groups blocked a busy road in the areas claiming encroachment by ‘Jihadi fruit sellars’. The protesters, who gathered with lathis and recited the Hanuman Chalisa to display ‘Hindu Unity’, raised anti-Muslim slogans and urged people not to allow to enter Muslim vendors in their areas. According to the report, a Hindutva activist claimed on live video that he had driven out all Muslim vendors from the area. They termed the Muslim vendors “walking cancer”.
The communal tension has been whipped up because a shopkeeper was attacked by a few vendors a week ago due to a scuffle. The report found that there has been concerted efforts made by Hindutva activists to fuel communal angle to any dispute in the area.
Hindutva activists also used a decade-old problem of traffic jam in the area to target the vendors in Uttar Nagar.
Sudarshan News, a Hindu right-wing TV channel, used anti-Muslim slurs and urged people to boycott Muslims economically while reporting about the development happening in the area.
“For the first time Hindus have come out so aggressively with lathis in Uttam Nagar against jihadis,” said Subham Tripathi, anchor of the channel.
“Today, Hanuman Chalisa will be recited at Uttam Nagar and calls to boycott jihadis will be made. Sudarshan News has been advocating the economic boycott of jihadis for a long time,” said Sudarshan News reporter Sagar Kumar while covering the ongoing violent protest of Hindutva activists.
Pulkit Sharma, who is BJP’s vice-president in Najafgarh district, made provocative speeches during the protest.
He said: “Customers who complain about their habit of cheating are threatened with knives. We will wait for some time but if we don’t get a solution then we will launch a chakka jam here…”
Inflammatory anti-Muslim videos were shared which called Muslim vendors ‘Rohingya people’. In these videos, local BJP leaders also appeared.