The hate that prompts a Nikhil to turn into a Nihal - Beyond The Pune Murder

A young man is killed by a group of people. They ought to be arrested and questioned for the motive of the crime by the police. The courts would then pronounce a sentence, one hopes keeping justice in mind for there are signs that the man was brutally attacked.

This short paragraph will not make the cut, not as a news story, not for readers, not for TV viewers. So, let us fill in the details.

The man was a 28-year-old IT professional from Solapur, working in Pune. He had gone for his evening prayers and was returning home on Monday night. A group of men armed with hockey sticks started beating him up and continued to do so till he bled and the wounds were visible, and until he died.

Is this para enough? What is the motive?

The man's name is Mohsin Shaikh. The cops have arrested members of the Hindu Rashtra Sena. A senior police official said:

“On Monday evening, there were rumours circulated through the social media that stones were pelted at a Shivaji statue. This led a group of youths from the Hindu Rashtra Sena to take to the streets. They targeted Muslim settlements. Motorcycles that were found at the place where Mohsin was beaten up led to the suspects."

Prior to that, somebody had posted morphed photographs of Shivaji and Bal Thackeray on Facebook. That had led the HRS to vandalise 200 vehicles and create mayhem in Osmanabad District, where it was believed the post originated from.

Why was Mohsin Shaikh, who was in Pune, targeted? Reports say that a 'Nihal Khan' posted those pictures. It turns out that it was a Nikhil Tikone who did so. This is not new. Recall how the Sri Ram Sene members had hoisted a Pakistani flag on the secretariat building in Bangalore to create tension between the two communities.

In such a situation, one group sees the other as an opponent and it does not matter who actually is behind the mischief. Tikone chose to post as Nihal Khan, but why did he do so? Was he alone or was it a group backing him?

And what happens to the man who lost his life for nothing? His friend Riyaz who was with him at the time of the attack said:

"I was saved because I don't have a beard, and wasn't wearing a skullcap. Mohsin was targetted because he looked like a Muslim.”

This will be explained away as a hate crime. The problem is the other layers get ignored. He was educated, had a job and a decent salary. He was also taking up social space with confidence, and not afraid to show an identity he was comfortable with. The hate here is for all of these factors, besides his religion. The resentment is against a person from a minority community who is not browbeaten by people who are seemingly uneducated, unemployed, and easily brainwashed.

[Those who talk about madrassa brainwashing need to look into their own backyard sometimes, if for nothing else then to at least save themselves from being destructive.]

The Nikhils have a vague idea about another faith, but they feel threatened by the fictitious Nihals who manage to lead a life of dignity without compromising on their choice of food, clothes, and faith.

There is a reason, idealistic as it may seem, that I started out by not mentioning any details, especially about religion. Will such hate crime reduce when people realise they are not getting any mileage for puffing their chests to prove they are in a majority or a position of power?

These are fringe outfits, yet they get mainstream space. Ironically, they object to posts but use the social media to promote a rift. That is their target audience, and it is no more about affording a computer, a smartphone and a wireless connection. These are cheap and accessible today. Anonymity can also make people whoever they want to be.

Mohsin lost his life because hate has takers. Already, the fence-sitters are specifying that it is a Congress-ruled state. Does it matter? Uttar Pradesh is a Samajwadi Party-ruled state, Kolkata a Trinamool Congress state.

The point is that the culprits have been burning public property for a few days and are not afraid to flash their motive. It is such pugnacity that not only kills innocents, but might also get away with it. One, two, twelve culprits may get sentenced for a murder that is real. Hate is an abstraction that uses other means, other reasons to hit back. Who will try it?

© Farzana Versey


  1. Why there is groups like rss and etc . Where our new PM with full of promises. This is time for him to prove that he cares for country and minority by hanging all those involved even they are in hundreds.

  2. I don't see India developing in next decade or so. Now top level people will try to save this innocent persons killers. Police are slaves of rss hrs groups. How they can take actions against them.

  3. Please farzana delete this mohsin sheikh so photo as he is no longer in this world.

  4. Heart breaking ..the minority community is at risk of life. ..same lik our neighbours. We are becoming

  5. FV,

    Every meaningless death is condemnable. This guy allegedly was killed because he wore his faith proudly on sleeve, if we take your word.

    Just like those Karsevaks in Sabarmati Express in the February of 2002..

    The only difference is that you are certified secular while I may not qualify as one.

  6. "However, no such youth has been arrested by police. The youth shown in that image has been identified as Nikhil Tikone from Kasba Peth and he was actually injured in one of the stone-pelting incidents,” added Kumar. - See more at: http://www.mid-day.com/articles/objectionable-pictures-originated-in-osmanabad/15346174#sthash.afLqohUd.dpuf"

  7. No, Nikhil Tikone didn't do this. It was his picture as someone injured which was spread in the name of Nihal. http://www.mid-day.com/articles/objectionable-pictures-originated-in-osmanabad/15346174

    Agree with the sentiments. Please correct the facts.

  8. Really sad incidence. The culprits must be punished and message has to go out to tell everyone that "India is secular and people are free to exercise their religion without fear". A true follower of Shivaji will never do these heinous act.

    - Shivaji's follower who started hating shiv-sena now

  9. First of all thanks for publishing my comment (#6)

    Secondly thanks for allowing anonymous post.If not for anonymous, i wouldnt have bothered to paste link and clear the misunderstanding
    surronding Nikhil Tikone.

    Now like a good blooger, can you please write a note saying Nikhil didnt upload the post.Poor guy first got stoned and now internet is stoning whatever is left of him.Seems he will have to get a plastic surgery done on his face.:P

    @Anonymous hating Shivsena.
    FYI, Why blame Shiv Sena.What have they done? They were some hooligans contracted to incite communal riots.
    Infact, the way political situation is in Maharashtra, ShivSena do not need to do such thing.Power will come to them without much efforts.After reading your comments ,its seems to me, that power behind this Pune game succeeded in diverting some votes from them.

  10. Re. clarification about Nikhil Tikone, I did not say he was arrested. The link does not say much. Yes, he was hurt in the stone pelting. Crossfire is the word that's used. Somebody did upload as Nihal, and thus far his name is Nikhil (I have not uploaded his photo). There is another report here: http://www.punemirror.in/pune/crime/FB-post-shuts-down-Pune/articleshow/35911896.cms

    Readers can draw conclusions, and they do read the comments. Unless I know for sure how Nikhil Tikone is being "stoned" by the Internet, and whether he was not the person, the post stands as it is.

    The report also mentions the SS complicity.



    I don't need a secular certificate, but the reason I get it and you don't is perhaps evident from your comment. The moment a Muslim is targeted, you need to conflate it. Don't even take me there..


    I see nothing wrong in using Mohsin's picture. There is no voyeurism involved here.


    To the various anons who aren't being published, I have read about your 'concern' for protecting the Hindu Rashtra Sena. Sad that you need to refer to my body parts to do so. Culture?

  11. Facebook Hate is Virtual Reality, But Street Hate is a Reality.

  12. One more time, Your post doesnt hold any substance!!


  13. One more link !!
    Only difference between Nikhil Tikone and Mohsin Shaikh that he got killed and Nikhil Tikone didnt.


  14. An Indian Nikhil10/06/2014, 15:33

    "The moment a Muslim is targeted, you need to conflate it."
    There is no conflation here.
    Rather fact of the matter is that One is welcome to cry for Nihals but not for Nikhils. Infact nobody even talk about Nikhil but yes if there is even a single Nihal.. all hell breaks loose..

    But not anymore, many educated/ well-placed Nikhils are realizing the double standards being acquired by Media at large. Recent results are evidence for the same.

    They ask apology for Gujarat but never talk about S6. Shame!

    Things can not be resolved without being taken in a holistic manner.


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