Hate mongers’ narrative must be challenged before country descends into religious discord, chaos and violence

Provocative propaganda is being used to poison minds of gullible people to distract attention from real issues like health and education and hide governance failures of the ruling dispensation


Dr Arun Mitra

Harmony in society is an essential prerequisite for development. Despite this knowledge, there have been incidents of violence based on religion and ethnicity in different parts of the world. These are perpetrated because the concerned parties feel solidarity for their respective groups and label the other groups as inimical to them. Such acts are meticulously planned and executed through the groups of people motivated to carry out the task.

Therefore, in many cases, those who indulge in violence have no feeling of remorse for causing injury, even killing others, including women and children. But such incidents of violence trigger serious physical and mental health problems and impact all aspects of life including emotional and social relationships.

Mankind has developed through collective and collaborative efforts of thousands of years. A conscientious struggle was waged relentlessly by the people with great sacrifices to bring a change against all forces who were impeding such progress. India’s struggle for freedom from the colonial rule drew motivation from such ideas and therefore tried to assimilate all sections and groups in the fight against the British colonial rule. However, there were groups who became part of the British game of divide and rule through communal divisions in the society.

Post-independence, India adopted a Constitution which carried forward the ethos of the freedom fighters and put forth secularism, that is respect for all the religions, and equal rights to all the citizens irrespective of religious, ethnic, caste or gender discrimination, as its ideal.

The Constitution is also inspired from our ancient culture of “Vasudaiva Kutumbakam”. Thus, the idea of India was not limited to wellbeing of people living in the geographical boundaries of India but for the welfare of all the people around the globe. Violence in any form was rejected and harmony, love and cohesiveness were sought to be projected by the framers of the Constitution.

Violence based on communal lines reared its ugly head during the British colonial rule to create a mind-set of hatred towards others and weaken the freedom movement. The violence that occurred during the partition in 1947 led to the killing of nearly 20 lakh Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, giving a clear message that no one is spared when violent incidents of this type take place. It is the innocent, particularly the women, children and the elderly who suffer the most.

Whereas physical injury is a visible fallout of the violence, the mental health issues are even worse. Losing kith and kin leaves a long term impact, more so on children who are likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They develop a feeling of helplessness and disgust, undergo depression, lose interest in studies and even develop aggressive violent behaviour. Loss of parents leave the children devoid of love and affection which is most important for the development of normal behaviour.

Such a situation also leads to acute financial problems, affecting nutrition and health. Many a times, the victims have to live in the makeshift arrangements/refugee camps where there is no privacy, no schooling for the children, no proper hygiene or sanitation, leading to serious health problems.

Prevention of violence is therefore a public health issue and it requires a lot of hard work to educate the masses about the danger of communal violence. Creation of jobs with proper remunerations can reduce the chances of people getting involved in such incidents.

Biased and false propaganda is being used to poison the minds of gullible people, to distract attention from real issues like health and education and also to hide failures of the ruling dispensation.

The State bears a big responsibility to prevent and control such happenings. But when the State itself is partisan and overtly or covertly supports the perpetrators of violence, the situation is beyond serious and difficult to control.

Recent happenings in the country of spreading of communal hatred by some organisations against the minorities, particularly the Muslims and Christians, can have a serious outcome on the harmony and integrity of the country. It is a sorry state of affairs that the accused are not booked as per the rule of law; rather in many cases they have been promoted for indulging in such venomous utterings.

Anurag Thakur, a Union Minister of State, who openly chanted the infamous ‘goli maaro saalon ko’ slogan, was promoted to the rank of full Cabinet Minister. Some recent events in Haridwar, Raipur, Ambala, Gurugram and other places where open calls have been given to kill minorities, and acts vandalism at churches and attacks on Christian schools don’t portend well if our society does not wake up.

Such events will cause collateral damage in the form of internal disturbance as well as external ramifications.

The majority community should realize that this mind-set does not remain limited to a few in the long run; it may well take a monstrous turn. Such groups would indulge in violence against anyone who questions them or the govt on any issue. Peace loving people cannot sit at home and just feel disturbed; they have to speak up and talk of real issues facing the society to counter such bigots. Else, these people who appear to be fringe elements today will grow bigger and more powerful. Their narrative has to be countered effectively.

(IPA Service)

Views are personal

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