If SP or Congress come to power, they will send Ram Lalla back to the tent and will run a bulldozer on the temple. Is this what you want to learn from Yogi ji? Take tuitions from Yogi ji where to use the bulldozer and where not to.”

In an election rally at Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh, held on May 17, PM Modi indicated the Congress-SP alliance, if voted to power, would send Ram Lalla to the tents and run a bulldozer over the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. In a snide reference to what has come to be known as ‘bulldozer justice’, Modi asked the Opposition to learn from Yogi Adityanath where to use the bulldozer and where not.

‘Bulldozer Justice’ has become a model of retributive violence popularized by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath in which bulldozers are deployed by the authorities to raze down the house of an accused before a case or a dispute reaches a judicial closure. According to an Amnesty International report, “The authorities in Gujarat, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh claimed that the demolition of Muslim properties was based on violations of land regulations, such as not securing the required permissions from the local municipalities, or operating businesses on government land, and other regulatory infractions. However, there are widespread similar breaches of land regulations by Hindus as well, and the measures these authorities have taken have been directed largely at Muslims and not Hindus.”

Yogi, popularly hailed as Bulldozer Baba, has repeatedly targeted Muslims while campaigning for the ongoing elections. In one of his speeches, he prided himself on the fact that Muslims offering prayers had vanished from the streets of Uttar Pradesh. On April 21, Adityanath was given a unique guard of honour by a horde of bulldozers when he went to the Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh for election campaigning.

This was repeated, with a louder emphasis on the spectacle of the bulldozers, on May 2, in the Mainpuri district of Uttar Pradesh, when CM Yogi led a roadshow which included bulldozers being queued up as part of the parade, from the top of which local BJP supporters and workers showered petals on the chief minister. The bulldozers were adorned with flowers and sported large posters of PM Modi and Yogi Adityanath.

Tracing the Journey of ‘bulldozer Justice’

Ever since the Modi-led BJP government came to power in 2014, bulldozers have been co-opted by the administrative machinery as an instrument of retributive justice. Over time, the idea of ‘bulldozer justice’ has been popularized the Right Wing ‘fringe elements’ in their speeches. By latching onto the public perception of bulldozers as a means of extra-judicial punishment against Muslims, this rhetoric has seeped into the mainstream political narrative, with eventually PM Modi himself exalting the practice during his speech in UP.

For instance, in October 2021, speaking at a congregation organised by Jay Ambe Seva Group in Gujarat’s Morbi district, Right Wing hardliner Kajal Shingala, popularly known as Kajal Hindustani, called for the demolition of local Islamic structures, which she decreed as illegal. Addressing the crowd, she had said, “I will make the strategy and lead it, all I need is your support. If it is illegal, then why do we need to adopt legal means to destroy it? I will get the bulldozer and I will pay for it. If people are standing with me, I will do it. Tell me when should we do this?” According to a report by The Quint, the local shrine in question came under the purview of the municipal corporation and was not illegal.

More recently, Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati urged the UP chief minister to demolish the Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband with bulldozers over its fatwa about ‘Ghazwa-e-Hind’. “Send your bulldozers and raze Darul Uloom Deoband. Nothing would happen by demolishing properties of petty people,” he said in a video statement.

In another recent interview, he drew attention to the fact that what he had said at the Dharam sansad (religious parliaments) were now being repeated by the Prime Minister himself at public rallies. This, Saraswati said, proved that he was right.

The gun-wielding ‘Acharya’ Azad Singh Arya, who is revered as the chief of the Gau Raksha Dal in Haryana, has resorted to the ‘bulldozer’ rhetoric on several occasions. At one such gathering documented by Alt News, Acharya Azad urged the Haryana government to ‘use bulldozers on cow smugglers.’

Addressing Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, he said, “I would like to request respected Khattar Saab: Please become Yogi for a day. Forget cow slaughter, no one would even dare to touch a hair on any cow. Bulldoze the cow slaughterers and those who cannot stand the protection of cows. But eight years have passed Khattar saab; I don’t understand when you will become Yogi.” (Translation) His speech was met with loud applause from the crowd. It is evident that ‘bulldoze’ here is used as an open call for violence against the Muslims.

Acharya Azad made a similar statement in the aftermath of the Nuh violence in August 2023. While speaking at a Hindu Mahapanchayat held at Pondri village of the Palwal district of Haryana, he exhorted Hindus to take up arms against Muslims. He also appealed to the authorities to ‘bulldoze’ the houses of Muslim people who were responsible for the communal clash.

In the wake of the clashes in Nuh, the country witnessed a barrage of hate speeches made at several rallies and Mahapanchayats across Northern India, where Hindutva ideologues made open calls for violence and economic boycotts. The ‘bulldozer’ rhetoric was a consistent ploy used in these speeches, to further disenfranchise Muslims. At a protest rally organised by several Hindutva groups at Mohan Nagar Chowk in Kurukshetra on August 2, 2023, Haryana, demonstrators were heard urging for ‘bulldozer action’ in retaliation to the communal clashes which had transpired in Nuh, Haryana. Some of the protestors can also be seen riding on bulldozers.

Yet another protest rally was organised by Hindu Right Wing outfits on August 2, 2023, in Prayagraj, in the presence of retired IPS officer KP Singh, a member of the VHP. Islamophobic chants could be heard in the background along with slogans of ‘Bulldozer Baba Zindabad’.

In a byte from the same rally, Vinod Aggarwal, a senior member of the VHP, claims that the perpetrators of the communal clash need to be identified and punished by bulldozers. He also says, “Their houses should be bulldozed similar to the way Yogi Baba uses the bulldozer to restore peace in UP”.

प्रयागराज विश्व हिन्दु परिषद, बजरंग दल और अन्य हिंदूवादी संगठन ने प्रयागराज मे हरियाणा के मेवात की घटना को लेकर जबरदस्त विरोध प्रदर्शन किया। सरकार से मांग की राष्ट्रीय एजेंसी NIA मेवात की घटना की छानबीन करे। जिसप्रकार से इंटीलिजेंस की खामियाँ आयी है यह दुर्भाग्य पूर्ण है । हिन्दु संगठनों ने सरकार मांग की है कि मृतक के परिवार को 1 करोड़ रुपये और घायन को 20 लाख रुपये दिये जाए और दोषियों पर सख्त से सख्त कार्यवाही की जाए ।

बाइट विनोद अग्रवाल प्रांत प्रचारक VHP

Posted by Vilas Gupta on Wednesday 2 August 2023

Bulldozer in Hindutva Pop

In Hindutva pop, the rhetoric of the bulldozer is a common trope. The songs implicitly celebrate the extra-judicial actions taken by ‘Bulldozer Baba’. Independent journalist Kunal Purohit, who works at the intersection of politics, social justice, and international relations, recently authored a book called ‘H-Pop: The Secretive World of Hindutva Pop Stars’. In his words, these songs “…when fused with psychedelic beats and hypnotic rhythms, combined with the headiness that being in a group brings, can turn processions into bloodthirsty mobs.” (Purohit Page 10).

Produced by small-time studio houses, these numbers take recourse to catchy beats, and lyrics that stoke nationalist pride and confirm ideological biases and stereotypes in order to normalise political extremism against minority populations.

We have covered a few examples which explicitly celebrate Yogi Adityanath’s ‘bulldozer model’, while calling for attacks against ‘deshdrohis’ (anti-nationals) and ‘dangayi’ (rioters), disseminating the bulldozer rhetoric.

BJP’s Azamgarh MP Dinesh Lal Yadav, popularly known as Nirahua, released a song called ‘Baba Ka Bulldozer’ which has garnered 5.1 million views. The English translation of the Bhojpuri lyrics from this song goes: “When the bulldozer acts, snakes and scorpions go into hiding in their holes”, alluding to the extra-judicial mechanism whereby bulldozers come across as objects of intimidation and fear to the minority communities.

A verified channel called Prabhakar Maurya Ayodhya with over 260000 subscribers, uploaded a music video dedicated to ‘Bulldozer Baba’. Slogans like ‘Dangayi sab knaap rahe hai, bulldozer baba chaap rahe hai’ (Tranlation: The rioters are scared, Bulldozer baba is mowing them) and “Rashtravirodhi pe hai bhaari, bulldozer baba bhagwadhari’ (Translation: He is hard on the anti-nationals, Bulldozer Baba is saffron-clad). The song currently has 4.1 million views on YouTube.

A singer by the name of Shrawan Sultanpuri has a staggering 2.5 million views on a song that glorifies Yogi Adityanath’s reign as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. The lyrics of this composition can be literally translated as – “Anti-nationals and traitors will be imprisoned, no one will last against Bulldozer wale Baba”. brandishing the symbolic meaning of the vehicle as something that refers to the unrivalled popularity of Yogi Adityanath’s ‘bulldozer politics.’ The channel has 35,000 subscribers.

By explicitly valorising the bulldozer as an entity that has the capacity to punish the archetypal ‘deshdrohi’ (anti-national), which is the Muslim stone-thrower, these songs operate to recalibrate the very way people perceive the bulldozer. It becomes a symbol that is both abstract and sentient at the same time; an entity whose raison d’etre lies in the protection of the motherland against its enemies.

BJP Leaders Calling for Bulldozer Justice

BJP leaders, too, have indulged in this communal rhetoric while making speeches. At a rally in the Shahdara Chowk area of New Delhi on August 3, 2023, BJP leader Jai Bhagwan Goyal urged all state governments to enforce ‘bulldozer action’ against the ‘Jihadis’, by emulating the Yogi government in UP.

T Raja Singh, the BJP MLA from the Goshamahal in Telangana, notorious for delivering incendiary speeches, has also reinforced this communal rhetoric several times in the past. The most recent documentation of his speech by Alt News shows that while speaking at the Hindu Jan Akrosh Morcha rally on January 6 in Solapur, Singh called for violence and exhorted Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde to follow in the footsteps of Yogi Adityanath and implement ‘bulldozer politics’ in Maharashtra. He proclaims that those accused of ‘Land Jihad’, ‘Love Jihad’, and cow slaughter would have to face the bulldozer.

In February 2022, Raja Singh was embroiled in a controversy over a remark he had made in a video, where he was seen urging people to vote for Yogi Adityanath or face the wrath of bulldozers. He said, “Hindus should come and vote in large numbers. I want to tell those who did not vote for BJP that Yogi Adityanath has got thousands of JCBs and bulldozers which were procured by him to mow down people who did not support the BJP in the ongoing elections. Yogiji will take action against the identified traitors who did not support BJP during the assembly elections.” The Election Commission issued a show-cause notice to Raja Singh for his incendiary speech.

In March 2023, Alt News documented several speeches in Maharashtra by Singh. In Shrirampur, he lauded Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde for demolishing Afzal Khan’s tomb. He said, “Shinde should also be known as bulldozer Eknath Shinde”, urging him to follow the pattern set by Adityanath.

On April 16, Bijoy Malakar, a BJP MLA from Assam’s Ratabari constituency, came under the spotlight for allegedly threatening the villagers from the Karimganj district to vote for the BJP or be prepared for eviction. Malakar made these comments while campaigning for BJP MP candidate Kripanath Mallah. In the short video which emerged from the rally, he can be heard saying “…if you do not vote this time, I know where you are from, and where you live. The election result is on the…4th, make sure the JCB doesn’t reach your home after that”.

In the state of Assam, ever since BJP’s Himanta Biswa Sarma came to power as the chief minister in 2021, thousands of homes have been razed by bulldozers under the label of anti-encroachment drives. This has rendered a large number of Bengali-speaking Muslim families homeless. Similarly, Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Dhami has carried out several acts of ‘bulldozer justice,’ justifying his actions under the pretext of targeting ‘illegal encroachment.’

The Congress Manifesto addresses the trend of ‘bulldozer justice’. In the sixteenth point under the section titled ‘Defending the Constitution,’ the party has vowed to put an end to ‘…arbitrary and indiscriminate arrests, third-degree methods, prolonged custody, judicial deaths, and bulldozer justice.’

Thus, the ‘bulldozer’ rhetoric has travelled from the discourse of Right Wing fringe elements to the mainstream electoral politics, culminating in the controversial remarks made by the Prime Minister of the country at Barabanki, UP. This, one can say, conclusively settles the long-standing debate — whether for the Indian Right Wing, the fringe is the mainstream.

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