Saffron-Clad Men Threaten Muslim Retailers Over Firecrackers in MP
The men in the video warned the shopkeepers that their entire stock of firecrackers will be burnt down.
Many Muslim shopkeepers in Dewas district of Madhya Pradesh have been threatened with dire consequences by a right-wing group over the sale of firecrackers bearing the names of Hindu gods and goddesses ahead of Diwali.
In videos that have now gone viral, a group of men with saffron-coloured scarves wrapped around their necks can be seen threatening Muslim shop owners.
The men in the video warned the owners that their entire stock of firecrackers will be burnt down and their licence will be cancelled if they are spotted selling firecrackers bearing the name of Hindu gods and goddesses.
In one of the videos that have emerged, two men can be seen warning the Muslim shopkeeper: “If even one Lakshmi bomb or Ganesh bomb is sold from this shop, we will be forced to do things you won't like”.
The shopkeeper, clearly scared by the men, promises them that he won’t sell firecrackers. “Please don’t be upset...please,” the shopkeeper said while folding his hands and pleading.
One of the right-wing men can also be heard talking about the caricature of the Prophet Mohammad by a French publication, that has triggered worldwide controversy.
“One caricature is drawn and you mullahs create so much of fuss, even we are not immune to disrespecting religious sentiments. During NRC protests Muslim shops were forced to shut down. This is the truth, if you are against the nation, then we are against you,” the man says before leaving.
Action Should Be Taken Against Offenders: Digvijaya Singh
Former MP Chief Minister and Congress leader Digvijaya Singh tweeted another video, in which another group of men with saffron-coloured scarves around their necks are seen arguing with an elderly Muslim shopkeeper.
“This is a crime,” said a man while pointing out a cracker with the picture of Ganesh.
Another man in the video follows the suit and say: “Mata Laxmi hai ye, aur hum inki Diwali par pooja karte hai ( She is Goddess Laxmi, we worship her on Diwali) to which another person added, ‘hum aapke devi devtao ke saath aisa karenge toh acha lagega kya? (If we do such things with your gods and goddesses will you like it?),” the man continued saying.
The shop owner tried to reason with the group that “this isn’t the first time that such crackers have come, they are manufactured outside and not by us”. To which the men reply by saying: “Then you shouldn’t buy it, If this stock is seen the next time then you’ll have to face problems. Everything will be set on fire.”
Then another man adds, “Your licence will be cancelled and it won’t even take two minutes for it, then don’t complain that the Hindus made you sit at home”.
Condemning the action of the men, Singh tweeted in Hindi: “Whose picture is on the firecrackers, the responsibility lies on the firecracker-maker and not the shopkeeper. Modi ji should remove the ordinance and make it a law not to put pictures of gods of any religion on firecrackers. The Dewas district administration should act against those who are threatening innocent shopkeepers,” tweeted Singh in Hindi.
Investigation is Underway: Dewas Collector
According to NDTV report, Dewas Collector Chandramauli Shukla said he had seen the videos and that inquiries were underway.
"During festivals, especially Diwali, we issue guidelines to all firecracker-makers. It has been brought to my notice that some people went to shops and threatened shopkeepers because of this. I have asked the police to investigate. The investigation will be in accordance with guidelines," Shukla was quoted as saying by NDTV.
Few states in the country have banned the sale of firecrackers ahead of Diwali as part of efforts to control air pollution and minimise the spread of the coronavirus. Madhya Pradesh is among 18 states and union territories asked to respond on the issue of firecracker-caused pollution, reported NDTV.
(With inputs from NDTV and Indian Express)
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