According to Hindu mythology, there was once a demon named Raktabeej. True to his name, his blood was his seed. He had a boon, from Brahma, of immortality—whenever a drop of his blood touched the ground, another Raktabeej would be born, creating self-replicating evil that defeated the gods and left heaven under the management of demons. This story is particularly relevant this harvest season, as we reap what we have sown: endless, self-replicating hate.
Over a packed festival calendar—with Baisakhi, Bihu, Vishu, Easter, Eid and, of course, Ram Navami all falling within a fortnight of each other—India was beset by communal violence by organised mobs that, terrifyingly, multiplied with the speed and strength of Raktabeej. On 10 April, a religious procession ostensibly celebrating the birth of the Hindu deity Ram in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh, devolved into communal clashes. From there, the violence spread like wildfire to Goa, Gujarat, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Six days later, on Hanuman Jayanti, it reached the national capital, as well as parts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. When the dust settled, Muslim lives and livelihoods were destroyed, while their homes, mosques and businesses were bulldozed or set ablaze.
In Khargone, the violence began when a “pious” but hyper-masculine procession passed through Muslim neighbourhoods, brandishing swords. The following day, Wasim Sheikh, who lost both his arms in 2005, was accused of pelting stones. His shop was demolished, as was the home of 60-year-old Hasina Fakhroo, which had been constructed under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.