The ugly machismo of bigots who celebrate deaths

Anyone practising the values and scriptural goals of shuchita, samrasta, sabhyata and sadbhavna today must seem like aliens from outer space

The ugly machismo of bigots who celebrate deaths

Sujata Anandan

Jesus Christ had enough time before he died to say of his crucifiers, “Forgive them, God, for they know not what they do.”

Mahatma Gandhi had no time for more than, “Hey, Ram!" before an assassin's bullet took his life. But here is what he said just hours before his assassination by RSS ideologue Nathuram Godse. "It is my constant prayer that I may never have a feeling of anger against my traducers, that even if I fall a victim to an assassin's bullet, I may deliver up my soul with the remembrance of God upon my lips. I shall be content to be written down an impostor if my lips utter a word of anger or abuse against my assailant at the last moment...

“My death alone will show that. If someone killed me and I died with prayer for the assassin on my lips, and God's remembrance and consciousness of His living presence in the sanctuary of my heart, then alone would I be said to have had the non-violence of the brave." (I underline the "non-violence of the brave" for all killers, assassins and lynchers and abusers of this world.)

Not very different from Christ's sentiments, I should say. Or that of Prophet Mohammad who was saved from several assassination attempts by fate or chance and forgave all his would-be assassins, whether polytheists, Jews, Bedouins or others, including one by a woman who fed him a roasted sheep she had poisoned earlier. But he did not die despite eating portions of that poisoned sheep. When, taken by the miracle, she confessed to her crime, all he said was, "Allah is with us.” And let her go.

Closer home in modern times, I recall, as a student, reading about a young man hurling a stone at Mrs Indira Gandhi and breaking her famous aquiline nose. The black and white photographs on the front pages of the newspapers the next morning showed some dark spots on her nose and chin which, I am sure, was blood. It must have hurt terribly because later pictures showed her with heavily bandaged nose and forehead, yet she ordered the release of the half dozen students who had been involved in the stone throwing and continued on her campaign with a business-as-usual attitude.

Today the man whose stone found its unerring target would have found himself behind bars with the key thrown away into the deep, dark sea.

And, of course, we know how her grandchildren have forgiven the assassins, both the hands and the brains, of their father and her son, Rajiv Gandhi. An act that requires tremendous courage, fortitude and nobility of spirit in the modern era of vengeance and schadenfreude being the reigning emotions among most people. (I may have eschewed vendetta but, I must confess, I am not free of schadenfreude on occasion.)

But why do I mention all these examples of magnanimity and forgiveness over the ages? Because today they are such a contrast with India's Taliban, the RSS ideologues, at a time when even the original “Bad Taliban" – as against the "Good Taliban" so classified by the Americans – as violent and vengeful as they come, have said sorry for the killing of Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui in Afghanistan, denied that they killed him and commiserated with the general fate of journalists venturing into war zones. The Afghan President has expressed regrets and even the US State department has condoled Siddiqui's death, describing it as a loss not just to his organisation and media colleagues but the entire world.

But the Indian Taliban has been crowing about his death – even the Tamil Tigers did not crow about Rajiv Gandhi's assassination – and there has been not a single tweet from the government or even an official protest to Afghanistan at the killing of an Indian citizen. Why? Because Siddiqui's photographs spoke the truth to power and we all know that India's Taliban is very unforgiving of anybody who is not a bigot of like mind, does not cover up the truth, is a Muslim or is not a like-minded upper caste Hindu, is a liberal Hindu of any hue or origin or not a supplicant at the feet of the all-powerful duo in government.

Before the examples of the forgiving victims of various assassins and would-be assassins through the ages, the current dispensation sharply shows up as petty, ungenerous and so very parsimonious of spirit and soul. Even though I might openly admit to a feeling of schadenfreude under certain circumstances – like when I was ecstatic that L.K. Advani was denied his life's goal of becoming first the prime minister and then president for which he deliberately destroyed India's secular fabric and laid the ground for the advent of the likes of Hum do, Hamaare do – I would not rejoice at the death of even an enemy who had caused me much pain and trouble. I would leave it to the unseen divine forces to bring about a retribution.

But, frankly, why should we be so surprised at the crowing and lack of condolence over Danish Siddiqui? Aren’t these the same people who rejoiced over the killing of a frail, 55-year-old woman journalist, Gauri Lankesh, whose only alleged crime, like Siddiqui's, was to speak truth to power? It amazes me that an organisation and leaders who pride themselves on their machismo should target and rejoice in the killing of frail old men and women.

Earlier we had the instances of Narendra Dabholkar, in his sixties, Govind Pansare in his seventies out on their morning walks being killed by young, abled-bodied men. And then M.M. Kalburgi who thought he was welcoming guests to his drawing room was shot at point blank range by those young men much as the 32-year-old Nathuram Godse who pumped three bullets into a 78-year-old man wearing only a loin cloth and angavastra, leaning on the shoulders of two young women, all unarmed and unarmoured. Does not do much credit to those who laud 56-inch chests and show red eyes to the Chinese (which was, by the way, never shown even when they grabbed our territory).

At least the Taliban, good or bad, have an honesty of purpose and stick to their guns (pun unintended). India's strong leadership has proven very weak, its 56-inch chest has shrunk to miniscule proportions and its stated scriptural goals of shuchita, samrasta, sabhyata and sadbhavna are now so much a thing of the past that anyone practising these values must seem like aliens from outer space.

I salute the boors and louts of this country who have transformed India into such an ugly nation.

(Views are personal)