After a Shivalinga was found inside the Gyanvapi Mosque, which was built by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb after the destruction of a Hindu temple, Shubham Shikari, a singer and songwriter from Rajasthan’s Jhalawar, who composes Hindu devotional songs, decided to release a song, dedicated to Lord Shiva, titled, ‘Tera Mandir Banayenge Shiva’. And after the song was recorded, there was someone in the city of Kota in Rajasthan, who had a problem with the song and its promotion, which was being done by Shikari.
Speaking to GoaChronicle and explaining his ordeal, Shubham said that in order to promote his new creation, Shubham went out into the streets of Kota, the place where he was residing then, at his maternal grandparents’ home, and worked in a private company. Shubham and two of his friends put up posters and banners of his new song at a place near a flyover, where religious posters had already been put up. The trio of friends decided to put up the posters at nighttime in order to avoid the crowd of people, which usually erupts at daytime, and it eventually gets difficult to deal with them.
At the spot where Shubham and his friends put up the posters, 5 policemen were sitting. The policemen called Shubham and his friends and asked what they were doing. At this point, it is noteworthy, that 4 out of the 5 policemen, who were Hindus, only asked Shubham to continue putting up the posters at daytime rather than at night; but the remaining one, a constable named ‘Arif’ started abusing Shubham and his friends using deplorable language, and abusing Shubham, made him wipe his tilak off his forehead.
Following this, Arif called a police vehicle from the police station, and detained Shubham and his friends. After arresting Shubham and taking him to the police station, Arif continued to abuse him continuously, and torturing him physically, stepped on Shubham’s hands with his shoes. Shubham was beaten in the police station.
And while Shubham’s father was told that his son will be bailed out, Shubham was not released out of the police station for 3 days. All this happened right before his song was set to be released on 18th July. Arif also hurled casteist comments on one of Shubham’s accomplices, Ankit Mehar, who belongs in the Dalit community. Calling Ankit, a ‘Chamar’, Arif asked him, “Iss chutiye ke chakkar mein kahan padd raha hai”? Following this, pulling at Shubham’s hair, Arif said that he would pluck all his hair, which would make him forget composing Lord Shiva’s bhajans.
And while three days later, Shubham was bailed out with the intervention of the local Kota court, the case is still pending and he keeps on getting new dates for hearings, without getting the justice he deserves.
Amidst his search for justice, Shubham has been receiving threats from the Muslim community since July, with the haters asking him how he dared to make such a song, while some say that if their patience is tested, Shubham will have to run here and there to save his life. This torture, started by Arif, and continued by the people of the Muslim community, has not only affected Shubham mentally and physically, but also economically. After this controversy filled with hate, in which Shubham found himself stuck, the private company he worked for asked him to leave because they did not want to land in trouble because of whatever was happening with Shubham, while danger was looming over his life.
Now, with 7 months of being unemployed, Shubham is not in a position to even release a new song, because all his unreleased songs and bhajans are stored in a mobile phone, which has unnecessarily been confiscated by Kota police. Even currently, the police seem uninterested in returning him his phone, citing that Shubham’s song has the potential to create social disharmony and a law and order situation.
It is important to note here that the lyrics of the song or the posters of the same are not inciting in any sense. Even today, with a life threat looming large, Shubham is unable to move out much into public places. On the other hand, when the media questioned the Kota police, they were unable to give justifiable answers regarding why Shubham and his friends were arrested.
Expressing his worry about where India is heading as far as religious tensions are concerned, Shubham said that while Arif arrested him, he overpowered all the other 4 Hindu policemen, and this is exactly what is happening at the larger level in the Indian society.
This incident does not find overwhelming mention in mainstream media because, of course, the victim is a Hindu and the perpetrator, a Muslim, that too a policeman. This is a classic case of Hindu-hatred wherein a Muslim had a problem with Shubham’s song as it was praising Lord Shiva, and acknowledged the fact that originally, at the site of the mosque built by Aurangzeb, stood a Hindu temple. If this was not Hindu-hatred, one asks, why would Arif abuse and ask Shubham to wipe his tilak off?
While on the one hand, posters promoting a Hindu bhajan are considered to be ‘inciting’ in Kota, saffron torans are considered to have the potential to disturb the law and order in Thiruvananthapuram. And while the Kanpur victims’ lives do not matter because those who were burnt alive were Brahmins, in Jharkhand, Muslims pelt stones on Hindus and ignite violence because the latter were preparing for Mahashivratri. Despite all this and much more happening all across the country, that who is ‘dara hua‘ is the Musalman!