This can be a scene from any of the Hanuman rallies that Hyderabad and many other cities/towns are witnessing increasingly in the recent times. It has become a common feature and we are not questioning it. But the experience of getting caught in a rally, unable to cross a road or hire an autorickshaw can be traumatising.
Can these bike rallies lead to violence? Yes. To begin with, they create a sense of insecurity in villages/ towns and the “other” communities/castes/sub-castes may take out similar rallies. It is now seen that festivals are no longer private celebrations but public demonstrations of faith and power of a mob. It has been seen, again increasingly in the last few years that it is a virtual mobile army that can threaten, intidate,flog and even kill, if provoked.
The Hindu Yuva Sena, formed under the leadership of the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister is an army to reckon, with and the story goes that long ago when Amit Shah was mobbed in UP, it was only this army that saved him and safely escorted him from the village. It is also believed to be behind the Saharanpur violence today.
Ultimately they achieve their purpose. That is to bring religion into the streets , where it becomes a reason to divide and not unify. That raises the question: shouldn’t these demonstrations and rallies by any religion be banned from the streets? We have come a long way today and stopped questioning these violent divisions , so much so that they have entered our psyche and the best rationale we give is that “if they can do it, why can’t we?” and the cycle goes on. The day has now come when we are silent, allowing this as routine,thus turning the tide and creating an atmosphere for violence and another “genocide.”