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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Every life matters ! ~ we failed to pay homage even to Palghar lynching !!

Cruelty in any form must be condemned – killing is barbaric ! - Cruelty is pleasure in inflicting suffering or inaction towards another's suffering when a clear remedy is readily available.    Our hearts cry on seeing an elephant standing in water – as stated above, one need not rush to get it out of water but just stand with heads down in utter shame for it was mankind’s cruelty that made this gentle giant stand in water and die with suffering.  

Life is all about perceptions and mostly this is made by a guided media.  Lakhs assemble peacefully during Kumbh Mela.  One of the most popular attractions of the Kumbh Mela is the ritual of Aarti. During this holy ceremony, the whole river bank comes alive with glittering lamps and diyas, and soothing prayers and hymns chanted by the priests. Attended by huge crowds, this divine aarti ritual is believed to bring the 5 elements of nature (fire, water, air, earth and space) together at one place. .. .. but in media, what is Kumbh Mela about ? - Ash-smeared and dreadlocked Naga sadhus or Hindu ascetics, naked except for rosary beads and garlands and smoking wooden pipes ! ~ what a projection – and what is the respect that is given for group of Saints who lead a calm, ascetic, simple life without interfering with anybody else.  Sad !!

Have we heard about this place ? – or did we care to read anything after that gory lynching incident ? – did media report it properly.  Initially it said, child lifters were killed – who gave the mob the authority to kill and a couple of days later, videos surfaced in social media on the gruesome killing of Sadhus – it is Palghar,   a district in the state of Maharashtra in Konkan Division, formed in Aug 2014.   The district is bounded by Thane and Nashik districts in the east and northeast, and by the Valsad district of Gujarat state and the Dadra and Nagar Haveli district of the Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu union territory in the north. The Arabian Sea forms the western boundary, while Vasai-Virar, Palghar-Boisar, Dahanu are parts of Mumbai Metropolitan Region.

At least 15,000 Black Lives Matter protesters including singer Liam Payne and actor John Boyega gathered in London today as a show of force against the death of George Floyd in the US. Huge crowds gathered in Hyde Park this afternoon despite ongoing social distancing rules as many campaigners wore face coverings and held signs with messages such as 'Please, I can't breathe', 'BLM' and 'Colour ≠ Crime'. The rally comes as global demonstrations gather pace following the death of 46-year-old black man Mr Floyd who died after white police officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on his neck for nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25.  Today, Star Wars star Boyega told the crowd: 'Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless. 

Police were generally keeping in the background of the protest while their helicopters circled above. Banners included 'Enough is Enough', 'Remember Smiley Culture', 'Remember Cherry Groce', and 'UK is not innocent'.After leaving Hyde Park, the protesters clambered onto traffic lights as they marched down Park Lane towards Victoria - and at one point a supporter played Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds on a loudspeaker.  It comes after UK chief constables joined forces to say they were 'appalled and horrified' by the death and called for 'justice and accountability', while warning those attending protests to do so while maintaining a safe distance. 
Sad a life was lost in USA – but there has been large scale rooting during the protests stating ‘black lives do matter’.  MailOnline reports that looters in New York City were dropped off in luxury cars with power tools and suitcases before being picked up and driven to next location, according to eyewitnesses.  Police are said to be looking into numerous reports the rioters were organized and are now checking license plate numbers of vehicles that dropped groups off.   One witness, living in Manhattan, told ABC: 'Cars would drive up, let off the looters, unload power tools and suitcases and then the cars would drive away.'

Protests were largely peaceful Tuesday and the nation's streets were calmer than they have been in days since the killing of George Floyd set off sometimes violent demonstrations against police brutality and injustice against African Americans. But NYPD are still said to be investigating claims those who looted stores were driven to and from spots in Manhattan.    According to eye-witness on the looters - 'Some of the people were local, but there were a lot of out-of-towners.' Local leaders and business owners in Washington, California and Chicago have also suggested the looters were part of organized crime rings there.  Another witness told The New York Post: 'This is a real business. This isn’t angry protesters in any way shape or form. This is organized crime happening really, really well.'  He said he  witnessed Bentleys and Mercedes arriving on the scene to scout out areas to target; the return later with tools and people to loot.  He added: 'When the looters looted, they filled up the cars and the cars drove so the looters have their hands free to go on to the next place. The looters are just a bunch of young kids recruited to do the boss’ work.'

And pallets of bricks have also 'randomly' appeared during protests across the US this weekend, sparking theories they were planted to stoke violence. Those taking part in demonstrations against police brutality and the death of black man George Floyd have reported finding large stashes of the makeshift weapons on streets. Videos from New York City, Kansas City, Dallas and Fayetteville in North Carolina all appear to show piles of bricks unattended in the middle of protests.  The footage has led to suggestions the slabs were either planted by police or by extremists to overshadow peaceful protests over the death of Floyd, a black man who pleaded for air as white police officer Derek Chauvin pressed a knee into his neck for almost nine minutes.

US President Donald Trump demanded Wednesday that police ‘get tough’ after a sixth night of nation-wide protests – but privately, the president is backing off his plan to send in federal troops to stifle rioters. While President Trump launched a more than 35-tweet tirade Wednesday morning, in part claiming that the violent protesters are ‘domestic terrorists,’ he also abandoned his idea to dispatch the military after officials claimed local governments should take charge, the Associated Press reported. Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary Mark Esper supported the idea, claiming it would give the federal government quicker control over the situation than if it were to take over and activate the National Guard.

Now let us ponder on how we reacted on Palghar lynching.  On 16 April 2020, a vigilante group lynched two Hindu Sadhus and their driver in Gadchinchale Village, Palghar District, Maharashtra. The incident was fuelled by WhatsApp rumours of thieves operating in the area during the countrywide coronavirus lockdown.   It was reported in media that the group was keeping vigil and   had mistaken the three passengers as thieves and killed them.  Days later videos surfaced showing that they fled, took refuge in a local Police station but were handed over to the baying mobs and were killed in gruesome manner.  What sort of people were these killers, lynching men !

Those killed were two  Juna Akhara Sadhus -  Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri (70 years old) and Sushilgiri Maharaj (35 years old) along with their 30-year-old driver Nilesh Telgade,  were travelling to attend the funeral of their Guru Shri Mahant Ramgiri in Surat. Around 10 pm, as they were passing through Gadchinchale, 140 km north of Mumbai, a forest department sentry stopped their car at local checkpoint. While they were talking to the sentry the vigilante!  group accosted and attacked them with sticks and axes.

3 people killed in ghastly manner – they did nothing wrong.  In fact were on a vehicle and stopped when asked to stop for a check-up. And did any one of us protest ! .. where was the media ? – where were the actors turned politicians who tweet, cry and speak ? – where were seculars hiding ? – any candle march ? – any tweet ? post in social media condemning the killing, any Award Vapsi, any Human Right activist protesting ? – why – the sad truth that the victims were Sadhus whose life were not worthy for all Seculars and CEnterists.

Noted actor Kangana Ranaut  questioned the silence of Bollywood celebrities over the dastardly lynching of Sadhus in Palghar as they have come out in support of the #BlackLivesMatter campaign which has kicked off following the death of African-American George Floyd. While exclusively talking to Pinkvilla Ranaut said, “The Sadhu lynching happened a couple of weeks ago; still no one said a word. It happened in Maharashtra where most of these celebrities reside…Bollywood anyway is a derived name from Hollywood.” She added that Bollywood celebrities continue to live in a bubble and jump on a bandwagon (provided it is driven by white people) which can get them two minutes of fame. “Perhaps, it is because of their pre-independence colonial slavery genes”, said Ranaut.

Sadly, Advocate Digvijay Trivedi, who was junior to the lawyer representing the deceased Sadhus in the Palghar lynching case and also a part of the legal team in the case, died in a road accident.  It was reported that the accident took place when the Digvijay Trivedi was on his way to the Dahanu Court to join Advocate PN Ojha, the lawyer representing the Sadhus killed in the Palghar mob lynching incident, in official capacity. Q were raised on whether it was  a mere coincidence that those who raised the Palghar case were either attacked or got FIRs registered against them?

Sad, we did nothing – we did not even pay homage to those Sadhus who were lynched brutally at Palghar.

With profound grief – S. Sampathkumar

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