The Shiv Sena today claimed double standards by the media in its response to fatal attacks on sadhus, alleging that such deaths were portrayed as “adharma (injustice)” when they happen in Maharashtra but are brushed of as “incidents” elsewhere.
Referring to the killing of two sadhus in the state’s Palghar district in April, Sena leader Sanjay Raut claimed that similar incidents in other parts of the country were not viewed with the same fervor.
“Two sadhus were murdered by a mob in Palghar and this incident created a furore in the country. In the last four days, four sadhus were killed in UP and one in Rajasthan. In Rajasthan, the priest was burned to death. Nothing happened,” Mr Raut wrote in an editorial in party mouthpiece “Saamana“.
“The media is in such a situation that when the Palghar incident took place it is “adharma” and if this happens in other places then it is just an incident. How is this possible?” he asked.
The Sena MP was referring to attacks on sadhus reported from UP and Rajasthan this month.
In Rajasthan, a priest died from burn injuries after he was attacked by a group of men over a land dispute. The police there have detained two men and named another three in an FIR.
An alleged attack on a sadhu in UP’s Gonda district, however, was revealed Saturday night to be a conspiracy hatched by the priest himself. Police said the priest had hired a professional shooter to injure him in an attempt to frame a political rival for the attack.
This is not the first time the Sena has alleged disparate reaction to the deaths of holy men.
In April, shortly after the Palghar attack, Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi claimed that “factless (and) hate-inducing debates” were aired by some media channels in response to “a video of the purported crime” that emerged online.
Earlier this week Republic TV chief Arnab Goswami was accused of instigating communal tension in connection with the attack.
Meanwhile, Mr Raut today also took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah – whom he labelled as “Krishna” and “Arjuna” – for not following their “dharma” and protecting sadhus across the country.
“The rulers who are presented today as Krishna and Arjuna – Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. They are expected to do the work of establishing “dharma“, to overcome the crisis before the country,” he said.
The Palghar killings sparked a massive political row and the Uddhav Thackeray government has been heavily criticised over its handling of the case. Multiple petitions have since been filed in the Supreme Court, alleging police inaction and demanding a CBI probe.
In April, after the men accused of the killing were arrested, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray spoke to Amit Shah to assure him of action in the case. Mr Thackeray said the Home Minister “knows there is no communal angle… I told him we must search for those fanning passions”.
The sadhus were beaten to death by a mob after rumours they were kidnapping children to harvest organs. It was among a slew of similar incidents triggered by WhatsApp forwards of rumours and fake news.
In July the Maharashtra CID (Criminal Investigation Department) filed a charge sheet against 126 accused.