How do you create an environment for Hindutva politics?
The biggest weapon of communal politics is to present the sense of insecurity as a threat of aggression. In fact, it is the most effective tool for drawing religion towards communalism
The Hindutva brigade is objecting to Jinnah’s photo hanging in the office of Aligarh Muslim University students’ union, which has been there even before the partition of India. Before this, another incident came to light when a Hindutvavadi refused to board a taxi because its driver was a Muslim. Ahead of this, a newspaper conducted a discussion in which many opined that when Muslims gather at one place clad in burqas and with their skull caps on, then the Hindutva brigade succeeds in turning Hindus to Hindutva. Whenever an incident occurs, we start discussing it. There is no end to discussions on these incidents.
If we make a list of the issues on which efforts have been made in the last hundred years to create an anti-Muslim, anti-Christian mentality among Hindus, the list of such incidents will not end because this thought is deeply ingrained that politics should be Hinduised and Hindus have to be militarised. Adding to this, it has been stated that there is an internal threat to the country and Christians, Muslims and communists are these internal enemies. Under this belief, the Hindutva brigade keeps trying to give everything a tinge of Hindus versus Christians, Muslims and communists. Everything means literally everything. Biryani was made Muslim. So was colour green. As if this was not enough, the chameleon was called ‘Hindu’ and the spider’ Muslim’.
During the elections in Uttar Pradesh, combining the first alphabet of Bahujan Samaj Party, Congress and Samajwadi Party, the word ‘Kasab’ was coined and in Gujarat elections, combining the first letter of the names of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mevani, the word ‘HAJ’ was coined. A significant objective of the Hindutva politics is to present its political rivals as internal enemies of the country. This enemy is in the form of Christians in Chhattisgarh, in the form of Muslims in other parts of the country, in Bengal and Kerala, Muslims, Christians and communists are combined together as a potent internal threat.
Hindutva brigade keeps trying to give everything a tinge of Hindus versus Christians, Muslims and communists. Everything means literally everything. Biryani was made Muslim. So was the colour green. As if this was not enough, the chameleon was called ‘Hindu’ and the spider’ Muslim’.
I want to go back to 1971. I was very young at that time and like any other child loved the animals and insects around deeply. The dogs of our area were as dear as the cat of the neighbor Badki Mayi. When the dogs delivered puppies, we asked our mother to cook halwa and fed it to the mother dog. One day, we were taken to a ground two-three kilometres away from our school where we were shouting the slogan- Yahya Khan ki teen dawai, Lattam, jutam aur pitayi! (Three medicines of Yahya Khan/ Kicks, shoes and thrashing). We burnt the effigy of Yahya Khan and welcomed the making of Bangladesh by dividing Pakistan. We also heard the stories of the bravery and courage of our soldiers. But around that time one more story entered our mind—that a spider is a Muslim and a chameleon is a Hindu.
This was re-emphasised by a story that once when the Hindustani army (the story did not use the word Bharat) was chasing the Pakistani army, the Pakistani soldiers disappeared all of a sudden. The Hindustani soldiers could not understand how they disappeared suddenly. In fact the running Pakistani soldiers reached a ditch and jumped in in. After they had jumped in it, a spider wove a web over the ditch. When the Hindustani soldiers reached there, they thought that Pakistani soldiers can’t jump into the ditch because a cob web was woven above it. But a chameleon, who was present there, shaking its head indicated to the Hindustani soldiers that the Pakistani soldiers are hiding in the ditch only. The Hindustani soldiers cut the web, took the Pakistani soldiers out and killed them.
This story not only created a wall between Hindus and Muslims but also sowed the seeds of hatred towards Muslims. After that, we started violently killing all the spiders. We did not have the RSS stick in our hands but this created a fascination for that stick. I used to quarrel with Taukeer as a friend but later I started fighting with him as a Hindu and started abusing him for being a Muslim. There are so many stories of communal assault and riots of my childhood that they can be made a subject of a separate book.
When I grew up a little, during Eid and other Muslim festivals, this was publicised a lot that on that particular day, there will be water supply for a longer time and electricity will also not be cut. Then we were told about how many Muslim areas are there in the city and it is not safe to go there in the night. The area of upper castes was called the free India and its name was ‘Gorakshani’. Not even a single Muslim family lived there. This mohalla was situated around the graveyards of British period.
In the process of Hinduisation of politics, the issues of cap, burqa and Triple Talaq have now become more prominent. Before independence, cows and inter religion marriages were made a medium of Hinduisation. When were told the story of the victory of Hindustani soldiers over Pakistanis, it was also a part of the process of making us anti-Muslim Hindutvavadi soldiers.
Burqas and skull caps are not responsible for the condition of Muslims in the country. People who are familiar with the lives of women in Rajasthan can vouch for the fact that burqa is not only black and its design is not only limited to the kind of burqas we see Muslim women wearing in the cities. Recently, I had gone to Bikaner to attend the marriage of the younger sister of my student. A person narrated a story of a Hindu burqa-clad person there. He said, once a woman in purdah was sitting in the kitchen. Her back was towards her father-in-law who was having food in the kitchen. She was bitten by a scorpion on the foot but she did not even move. Had she stood up and dusted her clothes or shouted, it would have been considered an insult to the Hindu culture of the family.
Burqa is just an excuse. We are not concerned about bringing the burqa out of backwardness, instead it is being used for insinuating a communal mindset.
A Hindutvavadi once told that they somehow create issues for themselves. When the leaders of a secular party clad in white Kurta pajama and cap go for Iftar after the roza to Muslim houses, they raise a question—do these leaders put a tikka and wear saffron clothes on Diwali and other Hindu festivals? Recently during the election campaign in Karnataka, Rahul Gandhi visited a temple. During a panel discussion on a TV channel BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra complained that Rahul Gandhi does not know how to give dakshina to the priest according to the Hindu rituals. Rahul Gandhi gave dakshina from under the priest’s thali.
The biggest weapon of the communal politics is to present the sense of insecurity as a threat of aggression. In fact, turning the insecurity into aggression is the most effective tool of drawing religion towards communalism.
When the minority is engulfed in insecurity, it starts trying to be defensive and when the majority community is made to feel a sense of insecurity, it starts becoming belligerent. This belligerence, in fact, completes the process of militarisation. Muslims are seen huddled together, they come out together to vote, they are seen together in rallies etc. If you want to understand it accurately then see the women of villages in India at early hours of the day or during the sun set. All the women together go to the fields for daily ablutions; what do women do when they feel insecure can be reflected in their sitting together or looking for a safe coach in the metro.