Several shop owners in Dewas district of Madhya Pradesh were threatened of dire consequences by alleged right wing Hindu groups for insulting religious sentiments of the Hindu’s by selling firecrackers with pictures of Hindu god and goddess ahead of Diwali.
The incident came to light after a video showing a group of about 10 men adorning a saffron gamcha threatened a shop owner stating that his entire stock of fire crackers would be burnt down and his license cancelled within two minutes if he was spotted selling firecrackers with the hindu god Ganesha’s and goddess Laxmi images on crackers at his shop.
In the video one of the men from the group pointed out a cracker with the picture of Ganesh and told the shopkeeper ‘Ye apradh ha’. While another person pointing at a picture of goddess Laxmi on a cracker says, ‘Mata Laxmi hai ye, aur hum inki Diwali par pooja karte hai. Aur ye phatake ke saath jal ke paro mein aati hai’ to which another person added, ‘hum aapke devi devtao ke saath aisa karenge toh accha lagega kya.’ (If we do such things with your God and Goddess will you like it.)
The shop owner reasons with the group that this isn’t the first time that such crackers have come into the market and that they are manufactured outside and not by us. However, another man the group added that ‘Toh tumko nahi khareedna chahiye naa. Agar agli baar dikh gaya toh tumko pareshaani aaegi. Aag laga dunga ye sab ko.’ (So, you shouldn’t have purchased it. If this stock is seen the next time then you’ll have to face problems. Everything will be set on fire).
While another person threatening the shopkeeper said, your license will be cancelled and it won’t even take two minutes for it and further added, ‘Fir ye mat kehna ki Hinduo ne ghar baitha diya.’ (Then don’t complain that the Hindu’s made you sit at home.)
The shop owner was later identified as a certain Khojema Ali who ran a shop on Ujjain Road in Dewas. When contacted he said, “Yes these people had come two days ago but we do not mean to hurt anyone’s religious sentiments. Whatever little stock with the images of the gods was manufactured from Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu. But it has been withdrawn and won’t be sold.” He further apologised for hurting religious sentiments of any person or community involved while adding that he did not have any complaint against anyone.
The video which went viral on social media was also shared on a Facebook page of a group identified as ‘Hindu Yuva Vahini Jhalawar’ with a message that read ‘The opposing of selling of firecrackers has started from Dewas and any shop selling these crackers with images of Hindu God and Goddess should be opposed’ The post further urged the members to get an FIR registered against the shopkeepers under section 294 (A) of the Indian Penal Code at the nearest police station if any fire crackers is being sold with images of lord Ganesh and goddess Laxmi.
When contacted by admin of the page a certain Satyanarayan Chouhan who identified himself as the zilla president for Hindu Yuva Vahini, he said, “I had merely received the video as forward on whatsapp and posted it on his facebook page.”
Whereas, similar instances of shopkeepers of around 10 different shopkeepers around Dewas came to light following the first instance and videos of two others were available. In all the videos the group has visited shops and first asked the shopkeeper for a ‘Laxmi bomb’ and then threatened to refrain from keeping the stock and selling it.
However, when contacted, Superintendent of Police Shiv Dayal Singh said, “We have not received any complaints from any individual for being threatened or otherwise. We are checking the authenticity of the video and if it is from Dewas.”
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