Ajmer clerics' hate speech against Nupur Sharma affects shrine's footfall
After the arrest of Ajmer Dargah Khadim Salman Chishti on Tuesday night for alleged inflammatory comments against the now-suspended Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nupur Sharma, the footfall at the Sufi shrine in the Rajasthani city has fallen considerably. This has also affected the businesses of the local vendors and the hotels near the shrine during this year's Eid al-Adha festival.
- A video had surfaced recently where Chishti allegedly declared he would offer his house to anybody who would bring him Sharma's head.
- Chishti is also allegedly heard saying he would shoot her dead for insulting the Prophet.
- This followed the controversial remarks that Sharma made against Prophet Muhammad and his wife during a TV channel debate on the Gyanvapi Mosque issue in May.
Local vendors said they have faced a 90% loss in their business this Eid and hotel bookings were canceled near the Ajmer Dargah, too. The lanes and alleys of Ajmer, which once beamed with tourists, wore a deserted look even on Friday. This has affected the income of people with the restaurants and transport companies making only 10% business in the past few days.
"People are not coming out as they are scared," said Dinesh Kumar Soni, a local vendor. Hotel owners also said customers have canceled several bookings prior to their arrival. "We have a hotel. Our sales were good for the past year but since statements and issues in Udaipur cropped up, it is led to a complete loss of sales," a hotel owner said.
The hate speeches have started impacting people coming to Ajmer negatively, a hotel owner said. "It is these statements that have triggered this. A loss of at least Rs. 50 crore is estimated to be witnessed. Forget about private vehicles, even buses are coming here empty," ANI quoted the President of Dargah Bazar Business Association, Hotchand Srinani, as saying.
The police earlier said Chishti made the aforementioned video in a drunken state. Chishti was apprehended at his home in Khadim Mohalla, according to Ajmer Assistant Superintendent of Police Vikas Sangwan. "Prima facie, he made the video in an inebriated condition. He is being interrogated further," Sangwan added. Meanwhile, the Dargah Police Station's in-charge, Dalbeer Singh Foujdar, said that "Chishti is a historysheeter."
Ajmer Dargah Dewan Zainul Abedin Ali Khan had denounced Chisti's views and stated that the shrine is a haven of communal harmony. He stated that the ideas conveyed by the "khadim" in the video cannot be regarded as a message from the Dargah. Previously, four persons were detained in connection with another controversial remark reportedly given near the Dargah main entrance on June 17.
Last month, Kanhaiya Lal, a tailor in Udaipur, was also brutally killed by two assailants—named Riyaz Akhtari and Ghaus Mohammad—apparently for supporting Sharma's controversial remarks against the Prophet in a social media post. They slit Lal's throat and posted a video on social media, claiming they did it to avenge an insult to Islam. They also issued a threat to PM Narendra Modi.