BJP councillors allegedly assaulted their counterparts from the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and shoved them out of an auditorium in Meerut on Friday after they refused to stand up and sing Vande Mataram a second time.
The occasion was the oath-taking ceremony for the 90 newly elected councillors of the Meerut Nagar Nigam, of whom 44 are from the BJP and 11 from the AIMIM.
“The recital of Vande Matram was conducted after the oath-taking ceremony. We also stood up and some of us recited it although such songs are prohibited in our religion,” AIMIM councillor Mohammad Imran said.
“Then (BJP Rajya Sabha member) Laxmikant Bajpayee, who was there, declared there were some errors inthe recital and it should therefore be conducted again.Some of our remembers didn’t stand up this time. Suddenly, the BJP members attackedus and pushed us out of the hall.”
Mohammad Atif Saif, another AIMIM councillor, said: “We shall never recite Vande Mataram. We can definitely say, ‘Jai Hind’. We are real patriots but the BJP members are fake Indians because they make a mockery of our secular Constitution.”
Bajpayee denied that BJP members had attacked AIMIM councillors.
“Nobody attacked them. But we are workers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and won’t let people insult the Constitution of India, in which Vande Mataram is inscribed on the first page,” he said.
Umesh Kumar, an Allahabad High Court advocate, told this newspaper: “There is no mention of Vande Mataram anywhere in the Constitution of India.”
Bajpayee said: “They must stand up and recite it…. They should at least stand up and remain silent at such places instead of chanting slogans against anybody.”
Saif denied any sloganeering. “We were sitting silently. For this they kept beating us for five minutes.”
Bajpayee said: “The organisers of the event had deployed someone to conduct the session who didn’t know Vande Mataram well. He committed many errors during the first recital, so I asked that it be done a second time.”
Written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and incorporated in his 1882 novel Anandamath, the song was adopted by the Jawaharlal Nehru government as the country’s national song.