ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Afrazul Killing Video as a Perfect Anti-Muslim Crime

The video with the killing of Mohammad Afrazul by Shambhunath Raigar in cold blood, without any immediate motivation or excuse, is a watershed moment in the new-age social-media-driven communal crime in India. Where all such hate crime shared on social media, especially lynchings, builds an ever-present sense of fear for the Muslim, this video does away with all padding, any semblance of rationale, the use of passion as motivator, and mob as executive. This is a radical break from the past where the Hindu right felt a need to justify itself even to the rest of the country.

Even as the facts of the case are yet to fully come to light, I write this piece as an Indian Muslim and an academic in response to the video of the brutal and cold-blooded killing of Mohammad Afrazul, posted by its perpetrator, Shambhunath Raigar (the 48- year-old migrant worker from West Bengal was brutally hacked and the killing filmed by a teenager in Rajsamand district on 6 December). As an Indian Muslim I have grown used to various types of violence against Muslims and other minorities in India not just by being exposed to them through the media, but also experiencing them first-hand, through telling of their dire experiences by friends and family, or even reading the near-lynching experience of a former student in a magazine that combines the two.1 However, this particular video has shaken me to the core, is unlike anything I have ever seen before and gives me a sense of great foreboding for Indian civilisation, if there is such a thing.

Since independence and partition and with the formation of the Muslim state, Pakistan, as its enemy-state neighbour, secular India has struggled with its Muslim minority with regard to its national identity. With a notional idea of a secular India and the opposing idea of India as a Hindu nation, Muslims have often been direct electoral pawns of the centrist party, or the targeted and excluded other of the Hindu right, which seeks to unite and consolidate not just upper caste, but even Other Backward Classes (OBCs), and lately tribal and lower-caste Hindu votes. Violence against Muslims has been part of electoral politics in different ways. Protection against it is the secular party’s claim and appeals to the Muslim or limited secular vote. An instrumental use of the riot itself to advance ideas of Hindu pride serves the Hindu right. This is my academic understanding of the situation.

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Updated On : 19th Dec, 2017

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