Books and Documents

Islam and Politics (22 Dec 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Making Sense of Afrazul’s Lynching


By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

22 December 2017

It was mind numbing to watch those visuals. A man armed with an axe, attacking another from behind, chopping him up and putting his body on fire. To top it all, it was all filmed by a fourteen-year-old. The fact that the camera did not shake in this teenager’s hand is perhaps a pointer to the larger dystopia in which we are entering. The boy’s firm hold of the camera is a signifier of the death of the generation of innocence. The act of killing was done for the camera. It was a performance. Afrazul was to be killed for the consumption of those images and the underlying message behind it which makes Afrazul incidental to the plot. Any Muslim would have easily replaced him. But a labourer from Bengal, a poor Muslim was an easy target as he would not have deep roots within the city or the locality. Nationalism, after all, picks up the most vulnerable to make statements of valour and bravery.

There were systematic attempts to portray the act as the vile expression of a demented mind. Who would do such a thing, we were asked. However, the ‘disturbed mind’ theory is a diversionary tactic as it later turned out that Shambhulal Raigar did not exhibit any such behaviour in the past. Then there were attempts not to see this as another example of Muslim lynching. Humanity died, proclaimed many a headline conveniently forgetting that the human who was killed had a name and a religion. Convenience also plays a part in glossing over the fact that Muslims have been lynched with rather agonizing yet monotonous regularity, particularly in the state of Rajasthan where the Chief Minister has at one time been a liberal herself.

 What also got lost in the din was the more ominous fact that those accused of similar crimes in the same state today walk free. Impunity is a culture which is promoted by state complicity. In this case, it is absolutely clear that the motive and purpose behind the public act of murder was to send across a message. Two different sets of constituencies were being addressed here: the fanatic Hindus who despite their proclaimed vegetarianism bay for the blood of Muslims and secondly to the Muslims who were being told to ‘behave’ themselves.

For a person who lost his livelihood due to demonetization, the fury he unleashed on Afrazul that day was not without a method. Making prior and post videos of the incident and then circulating it widely points to a deeper problem. And that means that Afrazul was minor to the whole scheme; the point was to paint an entire community as guilty of engaging in love-jihad and therefore the proposed punishment was not just for Afrazul but for the entire community. In a way, the entire community has been marked out by the Hindu fanatics as deserving of such a fate when they cross a line. It matters little whether Afrazul was engaged in some kind of love jihad or not, what matters is the perception that has been created among a section of Hindus against the Muslim community. Fuelled by absolute hatred coupled with fantastic ideas with no material basis at all, this discourse about Muslims has many takers. One can only see the many voices which have emerged to save the accused to get to the sense that something within our society is deeply rotten.

Shambhulal Raigar did this horrible enactment on the 6th of December and this symbolism cannot just be a coincidence. We all know that the mosque got demolished on 6th December and that is celebrated as Shaurya divas (victory day) by Hindu nationalists. What fitting tribute to the memory of that victory than to kill a Muslim? Of course, the similarity does not end there. Like the Babri mosque which stood in a forlorn state, Afrazul was also alone in the city, cut out from his roots and community network. What is also worth mentioning is that 6th of December is also the day of empowerment for millions of Indian Dalits. Nationalist Hinduism has always tried to appropriate the Dalits within the broader Hindu fold. We saw this in the case of Babri demolition, in Gujarat and now in Rajasthan. For the average Dalit, this gives them the opportunity of acceptance within the Hindu social order.

Those who talk about Dalit Muslim identity always gloss over the fact that there has been a slow Hinduisation of various Dalit castes. On the other hand, it is also true that Muslims, by and large, including low caste Muslims have shunned the Dalits because of their deep-rooted prejudice and casteist attitudes. In the absence of a dialogic relationship between Muslims and Dalits, the nationalist Hindus have worked hard to bring the Dalits into their fold and infuse them with nationalist ideas. Generally, no one should have a problem with nationalism. However, the peculiar variety of our kind of nationalism has only translated into being synonymous with anti-Muslim ideas and practices. The average Dalit today is as rabid anti-Muslim as one would expect anyone under the influence of Hindu nationalist ideology.

What is most distressing was the attempt on part of the media to portray it as the handiwork of some abnormal mind. There was hardly any talk in terms of how an ideology which manufactures hates against Muslims can be responsible for this. There was no discussion on how this was a targeted killing of a Muslim. And there was no discussion on how this kind of killing would go on until the killers or potential killers are assured of immunity. There are credible reports that some Hindu nationalists are collecting money to be donated to Shambhulal’s family and there are others who are readying themselves for legal support. What it tells us that the virus of hate runs deep within a section of Hindu society and that they largely see this as a justified act of revenge.

There has been an outpouring of grief on the social media and elsewhere for Afrazul. However, they are nowhere close to what we witnessed in other cases. It is sad but true that we live in times when Muslim lives matter less than other lives. Those who organised protests against the lynching of Afrazul were also not convinced that this has to be talked about as a specific hate crime against Muslim identity. As if to appear politically correct, they insert another line in their campaign—all lives matter. This meant that the protest was not specifically about Muslims being lynched but also about others meeting the same fate.

Let me add a caveat here. I am not saying that one should not protest against all kinds of lynching and other forms of oppression. But in a context where Muslim lives have become precarious for the precise reason of being Muslim; then the protest against Afrazul’s killing should have made this statement boldly. In trying a balancing act, these protests have only reduced the depraved ideological gravity of this targeted killing. It was also a little rich that some of these protests were organised by those who had defended the killings of Muslims in Nandigram and Singur. If Hindu nationalism has to resurrect itself on dismembered bodies of Muslims, then it is Muslims themselves who should be at the forefront of protesting against this barbaric dystopia for it is the Muslim alone who can feel the pain of being Muslim in India today.  

Arshad Alam is a NewAgeIslam.com columnist

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-politics/arshad-alam,-new-age-islam/making-sense-of-afrazul’s-lynching/d/113660

New Age IslamIslam OnlineIslamic WebsiteAfrican Muslim NewsArab World NewsSouth Asia NewsIndian Muslim NewsWorld Muslim NewsWomen in IslamIslamic FeminismArab WomenWomen In ArabIslamophobia in AmericaMuslim Women in WestIslam Women and Feminism



  • If people are "is as rabid anti-Muslim" it has ABSOLUTELY " nothing to do with " Hindu or " nationalism"...Example Mr trump is far more anti muslim than many hindus..nothing to do with hindu or nationalism....It is because across the world muslims do NOT FOLLOW secularism wherever they are in a majority and are most cruel to non muslims....the only time they talk " secularism" is when in minority...so no one trusts them...and that is the sad truth..." One must practise what one preaches...double standards do not last for ever...
    By awaya - 12/25/2017 10:00:56 AM

  • Sir
    many hindus were brutally murdered in Kashmir in the 1980-90 after which the entire hindu community left Kashmir and become refugees in their own country??? What did the Indian muslim do then? Did you protest have you done ANYTHING so that these people can go back safely home. You talk of " ideology" what is this Islamic ideology which is making ALL non muslims and even some minority muslims homeless across the muslim world....If a muslim suffers cause is religious persecution...but when Across the world muslims murder others for their religious belief..then what ...that is legitimate fight for jihad...Fact is Do unto others as you wish them to do to you" Wheere have your people ever followed secularism,.... where in which part of the world....they talk secularism only where they are minority ...never when majority? Why is their a fundamental problem? That is why the world has lost any sympathy for them.

    By awaya - 12/25/2017 9:53:59 AM

  • Throug out congress rule mon lynching was done by Muslims and was promoted by congress, I have never seen single year of  Ganesh where the Muslim mob do not come and so attack and kill Hindus.

    This hypocrate writers are shun on this.

    You can see now how Sultan  Shain is website is also playing victim role by putting this articles only one sided, show what Muslims are doing to Hindus.

    By Aayina - 12/24/2017 2:18:54 PM

  • In India, hundreds of hindu men have been lynched by muslims, for trying to marry a muslim woman - think of this as action-reaction
    By Shan94 - 12/24/2017 8:59:08 AM

  • When we see the silence of the present government in face of such unspeakably vile acts, what a contrast it is to remember Jawaharlal Nehru's favorite verse (By Euripedes, 450 B.C.): 

    "What else is Wisdom? What of man's endeavour

    Or God's high grace, so lovely and so great?
    To stand from fear set free, to breathe and wait;
    To hold a hand uplifted over Hate;
    And shall not Loveliness be loved for ever?

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 12/23/2017 11:44:37 AM

  • Ashok Sharma did not we have a person called Mohmmad Ali Jinnah who used to call himself secular, run away with friends daughter and asked for separate Muslims country named Pakistan.
    Did not we have a secular Muslims of India who have created state within a state with name called Muslim personal law!
    Did not we have 70'years of Muslims political  leaders seating in Parlamant and assembly in Indian and make mockery by not accepting anything secular.

    To promote Secular Muslims leader is to promote separatism in long run, look at what is happening in Canada.

    And those Muslims do really secular are made shun and are never promoted by mullas but actors playing Secular Muslims leader for mass is promoted to weaken the democratic structures.

    Through out my life I have seen Actors of Muslim leader called themselves secular through out the globe.

    By Aayina - 12/23/2017 11:19:06 AM

  • Well whatever Arshad Alam writes does not matter.

    A Muslim street Romeo following Himdu girls is fact more you guys deny and keep writing against Hindu is not going to help.

    If the problem was only young boy than it is still under stable that young boys in their teen age, but the married Muslim man also has same behaviour working in offices have same be our towards Hindu women, keep luring them.

    Same on you writes that never want to expose your sides.

    For Hindus in regards to women it is hard to live, work or study with Muslim due to this constant behaviour of Muslims.

    By Aayina - 12/23/2017 9:49:36 AM

  • Very impressive write-up. We find not enough voice of dissent against such rapacious acts.
    By Mamzurul Haque - 12/23/2017 8:46:09 AM

  • Wow! What kind of rabid hatred results in such a heinous crime? The killer might end up getting hanged, and he did not give a damn. He was not hesitant to involve a minor in the ghastly act!

    Those in Pakistan will say now we know what the founding fathers of Pakistan experienced and could well sense the shape of things to come resulting in a demand for a separate land for Muslims. 
    By Mubashir - 12/23/2017 6:57:54 AM

  • An ideology which manufactures hate against Muslims has to be fought vigorously. Such protests should bring Muslims and secular Hindus, Christians and Dalits together. Leaders of such a morcha must meet the PM, the Home Minister and the CM of Rajasthan to demand an answer to why more is not being done to protect the minorities.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 12/22/2017 12:15:36 PM

  • Very poignant article! Thanks to this website for highlighting such ideas and issues!! 
    Arshad ji, we should surely strive for a society where Muslims are assured of fundamental human rights!!!  

    By Meera - 12/22/2017 8:59:20 AM

  • Secular leadership among Muslims must take the lead. No need to be shy. A mass movement to oppose such incidents is required.
    By Ashok Sharma - 12/22/2017 6:32:54 AM

Compose Your Comments here:
Email (Not to be published)
Fill the text
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the articles and comments are the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect that of NewAgeIslam.com.