68-year-old temple priest Devunoor Satyanarayana beaten to death for ‘loud’ prayers

6 days after being brutally assaulted by Imam Syed Natiq Hussaini, temple priest Devunoor Satyanarayana (68) succumbed to his injuries yesterday while undergoing treatment in NIMS hospital, Hyderabad.

On October 26, Sri Satyanarayana was preparing for puja early in the morning when Syed Hussaini, Imam in the LB Nagar Masjid, went to the temple at about 5.30 am and demanded that he shut down the temple loudspeaker which was playing ‘suprabhatham’ (collection of hymns or verses recited early morning to awaken the temple deity). When the priest refused, the imam started punching him. The incident was caught in CCTV cameras inside the temple, Deccan Chronicle reports.

Locals who heard the argument rushed to the spot. A flower vendor stopped the imam and asked him to leave. With the help of locals, the priest was shifted to the MGM hospital.

Doctors said the priest had sustained internal bleeding due to a ruptured liver and broken ribs. After being hospitalised & remaining unconscious for almost a week, the priest’s health deteriorated and he was shifted from Warangal to NIMS, Hyderabad on Wednesday evening, where he breathed his last yesterday.

The priest’s name has been variously reported by different media outlets as Devunoor Satyanarayana or Devulla Satyanarayana Sharma, while the accused Imam’s name has appeared as Syed Natiq Hussaini and Syed Sadiq Hussain.

Hindu orgs protest apathy of state Government

After news of the attack spread, BJP activists held a rasta roko (road block) at Pochamma Maidan junction and demanded the arrest of the imam. Hussaini who went missing after the incident was tracked down by the police by the evening and taken into custody.

“We filed a case against Natiq and arrested him. We filed a case under section 307 IPC, which we will alter to punishment for murder,” said a police official from Matwada police station.

As the poor priest had no means to get proper treatment, Hindu organizations, NGOs and members of Warangal Bar Association intervened and gave several representations to the Telangana Government requesting that the priest’s treatment costs be borne by the Government. However, the requests were ignored, Organiser reports

Vishwa Hindu Parishad demanded death sentence for Imam Syed Natiq Hussain and immediate arrest of others who played a role in the attack. In a press statement, Kesireddy Jaipal Reddy, president of VHP Warangal urban division, N. Bhaskar Rao, VHP Telangana vice president and K. Ramesh, VHP District co-ordinator of Warangal demanded the Telangana state government to bear the expense of the last rites of the priest and to provide security to Shiva Sai temple in Pochamma Maidan.

The Loudspeaker issue

Almost a week after this shocking incident, there is scant coverage about it in media. This ghastly religiously-motivated hate crime will never ever dominate national discourse like the murder of Mohammed Akhlak for butchering someone else’s calf.

Use of loudspeakers in religious places is an issue which keeps cropping up every now & then. The double standards of Governments and society in general couldn’t be starker.

Whenever there is a complaint against temple loudspeakers, our state is quick to intervene – especially, ‘secular’ regimes like SP/BSP-ruled UP have clamped down on temple loudspeakers, but allowed mosques to blare their prayers with impunity. In one case from Moradabad, UP, the previous SP Government had pulled down loudspeakers from a Hindu Dalit temple as it was located in a ‘Muslim majority area.’

But even when there are court rulings against illegal mosque loudspeakers, the state chooses to look the other way. In response to an RTI query on why an October 2014 Bombay High court order against use of illegal loudspeakers in mosques wasn’t being implemented, the Mumbai Police said it was unable to take action as it could lead to “law and order problems.”

When some prominent celebrities have complained about the blaring call to prayers from mosque loudspeakers 5 times a day, they have been abused & shouted down and even told to ‘move to other neighborhoods’ by suave left-liberals.

Questions

Here are some questions which each Hindu must ask themselves if we are to survive as a community beyond 2040 and live a life of dignity and self-respect in Bharat –

  • How would Muslims have reacted if (hypothetically speaking) an elderly imam were killed in such a brutal fashion by a Hindu pujari?
  • Do Muslims rely on one political party or a single organization to represent their interests, or self-organize at the local level?
  • Who came out to protest the brutal murder of the pujari? If we believe BJP & RSS have not been as assertive on Hindu issues, how many credible supplementary alternatives have we built?
  • Would the Telangana government have been allowed to get away with such an apathetic reaction by Muslims? Can a Hindu Yadav expect justice only under a SP/RJD government, a Hindu Jatav under a BSP govt, a Hindu Maratha under an NCP govt, and so on…..even in such caste-centric parties, in a conflict between a Hindu from that caste and a ‘minority’, who do you think ‘your’ Government would back?
  • What is the response of large Hindu temples, maths, and other religious associations on this incident? How would Muslim organizations like Jamaat e Islami, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, Deoband, Tablighi jamaat, Ahle Hadees Hind, Reza Foundation, AIMPLB respond (and we are not even talking about the overtly political Islamic groups like AIMIM, PFI, Towheed Jamaath, AIUDF, IUML, Welfare Party of India or their ‘secular’ counterparts like Congress, SP, NCP, TMC, NC,  etc.)
  • Would Telangana HC or Supreme Court accept a PIL for a fast-track CBI enquiry into this murder, like how CBI was ordered to enquire the case of ‘missing’ JNU student Najeeb Ahmed?
  • How many urban ‘Hindus’ working in MNCs know about this incident? Even if you told them, would they care?
  • How many Hindu celebrities and Muslim intellectuals will condemn this incident? How many will ask Muslim society to introspect on the religious hate that drove Imam Syed Natiq Hussaini?
  • How many Hindus gather in temples or other community forums (like Panchayats etc) to discuss such crimes and increasing assaults on Hindu human rights and cultural identity? What do you think happens each Friday during and after the mosque sermon, and after weekly sermons in Churches every Sunday?

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