One-way hate campaign by Hindutva groups has only wounded soul of our nation
The efficacy of the non-violent method conceptualised by Thoreau and perfected by Gandhi during our freedom struggle seems to have been successfully demonstrated once again 75 years after independence
Zafar Agha's piece on the restraint shown by Muslims in the face of relentless provocation by some Hindu groups (National Herald, 4th January) has once again proved that refusal to return hate for hate renders those indulging in it, in the first place, helpless. It also reminded me of what our teacher at the University Department of English, at Jaipur, Francine Krishnan, had said about the power of non-violent resistance in her lecture on Henry David Thoreau's essay, Civil Disobedience.
'Just think', Krishan said, 'how helpless the mighty British Government might have felt before Gandhi'. 'Here was a man', she clarified, 'who simply refused to take up arms against them. How would they deal with such a man? '
The efficacy of the non-violent method conceptualised by Thoreau and perfected by Gandhi during our freedom struggle seems to have been successfully demonstrated once again seventy-five years after independence. First, by the brave ladies who sat in protest at Delhi's Shaheen Bagh against the contentious Citizens Amendment Act and put on hold the NRC and NPR intended to be introduced, but more pertinently by the Muslim community at large in refusing to rise to the bait in spite of grave provocation by some Hindutva groups.
One need to document and quantify the number of verbal insults directed at the Muslims and threats of physical danger made to them, resulting in lynching and murder of many innocent citizens during the last seven years to appreciate the restraint shown by them. Hopefully, it is being done by independent observers. The noted writer and columnist for the New York Times, Aatish Taseer records the onset of the malaise brilliantly and also explains the rationale behind the instigation:
Eighteen months after Modi’s election, India was on edge of mass hysteria. In October, two months before my arrival in Benares, a Muslim man had been lynched on the outskirts of Delhi for allegedly possessing beef. The cow was sacred to Hindus, the consumption of beef forbidden. During the election, Modi whipped crowds at his rallies into a frenzy over a “pink revolution,” an alleged conspiracy by his political opponents to promote slaughter of cows. “We’ve heard of the Green Revolution,” he thundered. “We’ve heard of the White Revolution, but today’s Delhi government wants neither. They’ve taken arms for a Pink Revolution,” he said, referring to the colour of beef.” Do you want to support people who want to bring about Pink Revolution?”
The cow had been carefully chosen as a symbol in the culture war. Modi knew that the English-speaking elite did not have the same regard for the animal as his religious base did. He knew, too, that the meat industry was predominantly run by Muslims and that the consumption of beef was not forbidden in Islam. The cow was a way both to inflame the passions of the base and settle the scores of the past. After the first lynching, Modi, normally a voluble man, was silent. It was seen as a signal, and the killings continued. (The Twice- Born, Aatish Taseer, page 146-147)
One remembers that when the attack on Muslims in North-East Delhi, in February 2020, started after one of the supporters of the BJP had threatened them to wait till after the visit of Trump to India was over and one of the Union Ministers incited the crowds to kill the ‘traitors’, meaning Muslims, Modi did not try to calm tempers down. Instead, he assumed the guilt of the Muslims and declared that he could make out from the clothes who the attackers were, again implying they were Muslims.
Just a month ago, on December 13, 2021, at the inauguration of the Kashi Vishwanath corridor at Varanasi, Modi again raked up the past. He said, ‘But the soil of this country is different from the rest of the world. Here if an Aurangzeb comes, a Shivaji also rises. If a Salar Masud marches ahead, warriors like Raja Suhaldev make him realise the power of our unity.’ This was totally uncalled for, out of context of the event and simply meant to incite communal tempers.
It follows that the attempt to vitiate the communal atmosphere has been started from the top. Once the prime mover had done his job, the cue was picked up by the foot soldiers.
The members of Meerut Municipal Council, sometime in 2015 asked some Muslim Council members to chant Vande mataram or go to Pakistan. A nondescript Bollywood singer then complained that his sleep was disturbed by the sound of the muezzein’s call for prayers. When a Muslim actor made a statement about the growing intolerance and said he feared for himself and was thinking of moving out of the country for his safety, he was told that the Muslims in India were safer in India than they were in Pakistan. In time, the debates got shriller.
Now there are calls for open genocide of Muslims as one witnessed in Haridwar, some twenty days ago. Misguided by the unchecked hysteria, two educated young men and a woman are allegedly found involved in creating a computer app to auction Muslim women. The following lines of Yeats, from his poem, The Second Coming, describe our present predicament appropriately:
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood -dimmed tide is loosed, and
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Meanwhile, the restraint of the Muslim community is commendable. One hopes, this madness will end once the present dispensation is booted out of power. However, the damage done to the soul of the nation will take time to heal.
(Views are personal)
Published: 12 Jan 2022, 12:59 PM