By Arré Bench Apr. 20, 2020
The emergence of shocking video footage has revived conversation around the latest case of senseless mob violence, where three men were beaten to death in Maharashtra’s Palghar district. Soon after, #JusticeForHinduSadhus and #UddhavWorstCMEver began to trend.
It’s been four days since three men, including two wearing saffron robes, were brutally beaten and killed in Maharashtra’s Palghar district. But the emergence of shocking video footage on Sunday, has revived conversation around the latest case of senseless mob violence.
As is usually the case, much of this conversation went on to take both a communal and political flavour on Twitter, with hashtags like #JusticeForHinduSadhus and #UddhavWorstCMEver trending alongside #PalgharMobLynching for most of the day.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s rule
Sadhus were protected.
Balasaheb Thackrey Rule
Sadhus were respected
— Gaurav Goel (@goelgauravbjp) April 20, 2020
The incident has also led to several voices questioning why the crime was apparently downplayed by sections of the media, which reported a couple of days ago that the violence was sparked off by a rumour that the men were thieves.
How will we ever unsee the visuals of #PalgharMobLynching! So many Q's:
1. Why were people outside their homes in lockdown?
2. Why did these visuals come after 2 days while media reported 'thieves' were murdered?
3. Why did police not protect?
4. Why is no TV media reporting?
— Varun Jhaveri (@Varun_Jhaveri) April 19, 2020
It didn’t take too long for BJP leaders to join the conversation, with a few implying that the 110 adivasis who were arrested for the crime on the same day, had political backing and were carrying out “appeasement politics” on behalf of their “masters”.
This led to several hateful messages, including a few unfortunately calling for the deaths of more men.
Mob lynching of 2 Hindu Sadhus in #Palghar undertook by terrorist since they are having political backing of ruling INC & Congress because of their appeasement politics and #UdhavThackeray is useless and just a puppet of Madam.
— khemchand sharma (@SharmaKhemchand) April 19, 2020
Hello @MumbaiPolice can u look at this profile. This man is calling to kill 13 people on Palghar incident. @AnilDeshmukhNCP Kindly look into the matter. This people are trying to instigate violence. @Palghar_Police pic.twitter.com/uRcZGcthL7
— Prashant Kanojia (@PJkanojia) April 19, 2020
Despite these very vocal claims, however, there seemed to be no communal angle to this act of violence. A number of reports — as well as the state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh — later clarified that both attackers and the victims belonged to the same community.
Lynching of 2 Sadhus in Maharashtra's Palghar: Perpetrators and victims belonged to same religion. Maharashtra Home Minister warned of action against hatemongers peddling fake news #PalgharMobLynching https://t.co/b69lo8gjtf
— Janta Ka Reporter (@JantaKaReporter) April 20, 2020
According to The Wire, the men who were attacked belonged to the “Shri Panch Dashnam Juna Akhara”, a nomadic tribal community. The report adds that this isn’t the first time members of the same community have been attacked by mobs in Maharashtra. In 2018, five persons were lynched in the tribal hamlet, Dhule.
The brutal killing of Juna Akhara Sadhus in Palghar is shocking and highly condemnable. Strict action must be taken to address this inhuman act of violence. #BeatTheVirus #PalgharMobLynching @HMO @ani_digital @aajtak @DGPMaharashtra @ABPNews @JagranNews @TimesNow @republic @UN
— Swami Avdheshanand (@AvdheshanandG) April 20, 2020
Still, one religion in particular became the target of online trolls. Several tweeters used this incident to call out the country’s “secular” citizens, while others questioned why Muslims were choosing to remain silent. As a journalist pointed out…
We now live in a time where Muslims are expected to feel guilty about a horrific crime that they had nothing to do with. #PalgharMoblynching
— Rohini Singh (@rohini_sgh) April 19, 2020
With fake news emerging as the second most prolific virus in our country over the last few weeks of lockdown, no less than Prime Minister Narendra Modi has had to step in. The official PMO account tweeted on Sunday that our response to this pandemic should “attach primacy to brotherhood”.
COVID-19 does not see race, religion, colour, caste, creed, language or borders before striking.
Our response and conduct thereafter should attach primacy to unity and brotherhood.
We are in this together: PM @narendramodi
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) April 19, 2020
Let’s hope his latest plea is met with the same enthusiasm as others have in the past.