It all began when certain people, who remain anonymous, uploaded some morphed pictures of Bal Thackeray and Chhatrapati Shivaji on Facebook.
This was followed by rioting, hooliganism and stone-pelting by the Shiv Sena in Pune.
However, a Hindu extremist outfit, the Hindu Rashtra Sena, felt that mere public vandalism was not sufficient. So they came to Hadapsar, on the outskirts of Pune, and attacked random Muslims on Monday, 2 June.
They claim they were reacting to rumors that a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji had been vandalized and that a Hindu girl was raped.
They killed one man
- 28-year-old IT graduate Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh.
He was completely unconnected to the Facebook posts and his only mistake was that he sported a beard and wore a green Pathani kurta, factors sufficient for extremists to target him.
The police have arrested 13 persons of whom seven have been charged with murder and recovered a bike from the scene.
Ominously, and perhaps a sign of the larger intentions of the group, immediately following the murder, the attackers exchanged a SMS which simply said "‘Pahili wicket padli" (The first wicket has fallen.)
“The message was circulated immediately after about 25 members of the Hindu extremist outfit allegedly bludgeoned Shaikh to death,” said Pune joint commissioner of police Sanjay Kumar.
Police say that this can be considered as a sign that the murder was pre-planned.
While some have termed the murder an "accident", criticism of the death and outfits like the Hindu Rashtra Sena has been sharp and pointed, with many feeling this was the beginning of a wave of such attacks.
Anand Patwardhan, an acclaimed documentary filmmaker known for documentaries on topics such as corruption, slum dwellers and citizen activism, posted the following on his Facebook wal
l - Here is a joint family. In this family some do legal things like run for political office, others do semi-legal things while still others perpetrate outright crimes - all to propagate the larger aim of saffronizing India.
Sometimes the illegal relatives get caught. Then the legal ones deny all knowledge of the illegal ones even though they may have all been at the same study circles together or at the same dinner parties.
These illegal relatives are kept at a distance. So the Sadhvi Pragyas, the Aseemanands, the Ram Senes, the Asaram Bapus, the Vanzaras, etc, etc, are at least temporarily abandoned.
After some time some get released for "lack of evidence". Some get "clean chits" even though cases are pending. Some rise to high office, become campaign managers, deliver first a riot and then a landslide, and are declared "man of the match".
Cricket is a recurring theme.
During the first few days of "revenge" after the Godhra train burning, the message that went around the joint family was to "Play this like it is a One Day match."
Yesterday the message that went around after a 24 year old Muslim techie was bludgeoned to death for the crime of looking like a Muslim ( no, he had nothing to do with any offensive Facebook posts) was "The first wicket has fallen".
Every unjust death diminishes me as an Indian and as a human being. And every act of terror, no matter who perpetrates it, breeds the grounds for counter-terror.
It makes us all unsafe. And it makes us all inhuman unless we speak out loudly for justice and for humanity.
Patriotism does not mean loving a piece of earth. It means loving the people who live on that piece of earth.