It is interesting to note that an incident that has triggered Lakhs of Muslims across the country to come out in protest has prompted such little on-the-ground English-language reporting that finding the facts is proving hard. As such, the facts seem to be this -
Azam Khan, the loud-mouthed and infamous Samajwadi Party leader and Minister in the Uttar Pradesh Government, said on November 30
that he felt sure that members of the RSS were homosexual, which he claimed was the reason why they didn't marry and were softening their opposition to gay rights in India.
Not to be outdone, Kamlesh Tewari, a resident of Sitapur and a man listed as 'working President' in the Hindu Mahasabha website
, issued a press note on December 3 declaring that the first homosexual in the world was the Prophet Mohammed
. This was apparently his retort to Azam Khan.
Protests followed immediately. A group of Muslim protestors filed an FIR in Lucknow, following which Tewari was arrested
. Tewari is still in jail. Tiwari's lawyer, Mahadev Singh, said
"he (Tewari) did not mean to comment on the Prophet".
The Hindu Mahasabha has officially stated that it has no ties with Tewari whatsoever, instead calling the entire thing a conspiracy against it.
This is both hard to believe and also not surprising. On the one hand, a random man's statement would not have generated such heat.
On the other hand, the Hindu Mahasabha has been facing plenty of internal bickering and this is also not the first time that various people have cropped up claiming to be leaders or spokespersons for the Mahasabha, whose organization seems to be loosely tied together.
For the record, the police have also officially stated that Tewari has no link with the Hindu Mahasabha.
In July of this year, for example, Tewari (then plainly identified in the 'Saamana' newspaper as National President of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha) offered a Rs 10 lakh cash prize for the assassination of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president Asaduddin Owaisi
. (Once again incident was so under reported in the English media that the sources for the incident are obscure and 'Saamana' does not keep online archives).
This is not even the first time Tewari has been arrested for such statements. He was arrested in January
of this year over a temple in honour of Mahatma Gandhiji's assassin - Nathuram Godse. The temple was supposed to be built in land purchased in Tewari's name. And he was also arrested in August for other offences.
The matter of Tewari's comments against the Prophet Mohammed was on simmer for a few days, with nothing really coming out of it, except a few minor protests, where there was some stone throwing
and it was mostly contained within Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
However the issue was kicked up a notch after the Friday prayers of the December 11th, when a whole groups of Muslim organizations conducted a series of massive protests against Tewari across the country.
The biggest of these was the estimated crowd of one lakh Muslims who assembled in Muzzafarnagar to protest against the statement. The gathering was relatively peaceful. As the Times of India reported
"Kamlesh Tiwari has offended Muslims across India and he needs to be punished. We cannot hear any such words against our Prophet. The sentiments of Muslims should be respected. We demand that action be taken against Tiwari at the earliest. This kind of venom cannot be allowed to spread in society," said Haji Ehsaan, a leader of the Ittehad-e-Mliiat, a Muzaffarnagar-based Islamic organization.
Javed Ansari, Samajwadi Party's media convener for Muzaffarnagar, said, "Our demand is two-fold. Firstly, we want nothing less than the death penalty for Kamlesh Tiwari. Anyone who insults our Prophet in such a manner deserves nothing else. He should be hanged unto death. The second demand is that we want a stricter law against such instances of hate-speeches. Nobody from any community, whether Hindu or Muslim, should be allowed to pass such comments. We want that people's sentiments should be respected. Those who spread such hatred and animosity should be punished."
"Kamlesh Tiwari should be hanged for his statement but same punishment should also be given to a Muslim minister (Azam) whose statement triggered Tiwari's statement. All this happened due to conspiracy of Hindu Mahasabha and the minister (Azam) so that Muslims and Hindus continue fighting and votes are divided. Presently, anti-Islamic forces are mentally torturing Muslims and hence such controversial statements are being given. This Muslim minister is tarnishing the image of the government. After his controversial statement, Tiwari gathered courage to issue derogatory statement against Prophet Muhammad."
However Jawwad did add -
"The punishment for this act in Islamic Shariah is death. Nothing will happen by imposing NSA and he should be hanged. If state government fails to do this, it will be considered that it is also hand in glove in this act,"
Large gatherings of protestors also disrupted traffic in Bengaluru
, when various groups numbering in the tens of thousands undertook protest marches in Nandidurga Road and the Town Hall. There was also a similar shutdown in parts of Kashmir
, where effigies of the Tewari were burnt in Rajpora Chowk.
The escalating protests seems to have unnerved the Hindu Mahasabha, who issued the following statement
"Any disrespect to the Prophet is not appropriate. ABHM does not agree with Tiwari and it is his personal view. We respect all religions and their leaders. We are committed for Akhand Hindu Rashtra, Hindu, Hindi and Hindustan. We are a supporter of development of all communities,"
Some of the protests were not so peaceful and things took a dangerous turn in Jaipur, where protestors began to chant pro-IS slogans and also made some pro-Pakistan chants.
The rally was organized yesterday in Malpura town in protest against Hindu Mahasabha activist Kamlesh Tiwari's alleged derogatory remarks on the Muslim community.
"During the rally, which started from a mosque and passed through the town, some people shouted slogans favouring the terror organisation ISIS," SP Tonk Deepak Kumar said.
"The matter was brought to my notice by policemen, who were deployed in security arrangements. At least five of the accused were identified on the basis of a video footage," he said.
An FIR was lodged today with Malpura police station against the identified as well as unidentified persons for shouting 'ISIS Zindabad' under section 153 (A) of IPC (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony).
"There were inputs that they also shouted pro-Pakistan slogans, but this is not seen in the video footage. The matter is very serious and is being investigated thoroughly," he said.