Abdul Hafiz Lakhani for BeyondHeadlines
Maulana Mehdi Hasan, who was in international media glare in 2011, when the then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi refused to wear a skull cap offered by him, has once again raised a controversy in Gujarat and took communal passion higher in already charged up atmosphere in wake of Love Jehad.
VHP is angry over an interview given by Hasan to a local Gujarati newspaper in which he is quoted as saying that Navratri is a “festival of devils as rapists and drunkards use to participate in it”. A resident of Rustampura in Thasra taluka of Kheda district, Hassan had shot into limelight when he tried to put a skull cap on the then chief minister Narandra Modi’s head during the latter’s Sadbhavna fast in 2011.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad continued its strong objection to what it termed as ‘provocative’ remarks on Navratri festival by Maulana Mehdi Hasan, saying it is a deliberate attempt to “malign” Hinduism and demanded his arrest.
Ahmedabad based social activist and an Urdu Journalist Kaleem Siddiqui claimed that Hasan is hungry for publicity and thus raised such issue. Siddiqui further said that Hasan was with him in Banaras during last Loksabha election campaign and could be seen trying for media glare.
JUH leader from Jambusar Maulana Farid Kavivala told that Mehdi Hasan should not speak in such a ghastly manner as it is a matter of faith. Islam respects all religions. India has diversity and every religion and rituals must be respected by all people.
VHP has also called for a state wide movement in Gujarat to bar Muslim youths from entering venues for ‘garba’, a traditional dance performed during the festival in praise of goddess Durga, to prevent incidents of ‘eve teasing’.
Addressing reporters here, the general secretary of VHP’s city unit Ranchhod Bharwad said that Hasan’s remarks are a deliberate attempt to malign Hinduism.
“When just a few days are left for Navratri to begin, the Maulana said that it is not a religious festival and further added that it is a festival of Rakshash (devils). This is a conspiracy to defame Hindus. This is an attempt to disturb harmony and peace in Gujarat,” Bharwad told reporters at a press conference.
When contacted, Hasan said that his remarks were taken out of context and rather he wants Hindus to “keep such elements away from the festival to keep its sanctity”.
Bharwad also threatened to launch a statewide agitation if Hasan is not arrested by police.
When asked if VHP or any other organisation has filed any FIR in this regard, Bharwad said that police have taken their application. He was referring to an application given to Dariyapur police station in the city by a local Shiv Sena leader Jitu Solanki. Solanki has reportedly asked police to arrest Hasan for allegedly creating enmity between two communities by making such remarks about Hindu gods and festivals.
When contacted, inspector V N Yadav of Dariyapur police station told that police are looking into the matter, but refused to elaborate. Meanwhile, Hasan told that his comments were taken out of context.
“I said those words with a particular reference. Devil means those who are drunkards and rapists, not everyone who enjoys that festival. I am a Sufi who believes in bringing peace among communities. I actually drew attention of Hindus to keep such elements away from such religious festivals to restore the sanctity. But my views were taken otherwise,” he said over phone.
Bharwad further said that VHP was not going to tolerate such derogatory remarks on Hindu festivals.“
Akhileshwardas said that VHP will take the matter into its hands and “teach Maulana a lesson if police failed to act swiftly”.
“If police do not arrest him (Hasan), VHP will catch him and teach him a lesson in our own language before handing him over to police. We will do whatever necessary,” he said.
Demanding that Muslim youths not be allowed to enter the garba pandals, Akhileshwardas said, “Muslims will not be allowed at any garba venue anywhere in the state. They are the ones who are involved in devilish activities such as eve teasing. We have asked each Navratri organiser in the state not to allow them inside.”