Last month we proudly carried a report of a Muslim man performing the last rites of his Hindu friend in Madhya Pradesh.
Yesterday, one of our top stories on jantakareporter.com was about Hindu devotees helping a pregnant Muslim woman deliver her baby inside the temple in Maharashtra. And in between the two amazing developments, we saw how humanity was shamed in Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh.
Many of you have asked me why I haven’t cared to comment on Akhlaq’s murder last Monday. There are others who asked me for my views.
The reason for my prolonged silence is that the lynching of the 52-year-old father of an Air Force personnel just because of a rumour that he ate beef has left me numb. Rarely have I found myself placed in such a predicament, where I’ve had to struggle for words amidst my constant fight between revulsion and helplessness.
I’m disgusted to see the display of hypocrisy of India of 2015 coupled with the brazen approach to justify mindless violence by those in power and so called educated elite in the country.
This diabolical incident takes place on the outskirts of India’s capital, New Delhi and barely few days after India’s prime minister Narendra Modi was busy selling the message of ‘non-violence’ in America. Or at least that’s what he pretended to do so.
After his famous audience interaction in California, Modi wrote on the wall of Facebook headquarter, “Non-violence is the greatest of all religion” implying that he abhorred violence. And yet, there’s no end to the politics of hatred promoted by his trusted lieutenants, who enjoy his tacit approval. Otherwise, how will you justify his utter silence on acts as despicable as this.
Given the clout he wields over his party, it’s unthinkable for any BJP leader to say or do things contradictory to Modi’s stand unless he/she has his blessings
One of his senior colleagues in the cabinet and local MP from Noida, Mahesh Sharma recently made some nauseating comments targetting Muslims. From describing the murder of Akhlaq as a mere accident to telling a news channel that Muslims in India weren’t really patriots, Sharma has taken his and BJP’s sanity to new low.
No one is suggesting that Modi is responsible for the murder of Akhlaq, but his mysterious silence on any remotely or explicitly venomous comments against India’s Muslim community has indeed given an approval of sorts to the perpetrators of rampant bigotry in India. And with this attitude another Akhlaq is not far away.
Modi looked the other way when one of his Sadhvi cabinet members was calling non-supporters of the BJP haraamzaada (illegitimate children). Sangeet Som, one of the alleged perpetrators of Muzaffarnagar riots that killed more than 50 people, was rewarded with Z+ security cover- often deemed as a status symbol in India. It was business as usual for the prime minister when his supporters called for raping the dead Muslim women in the presence of his MP Adityanath, also notorious for his anti-Muslim hatred.
And examples of Modi turning a blind eye to the vitriolic elements within his party are in plenty.
Let me now express my personal fear. Three years ago I had returned to India after living in UK for 12 years against the desire of my family particularly my wife, who resisted the idea of raising our children in a ‘violent society.’ I had succeeded in convincing her that India of 2012 was not what we experienced in 90s or in the first few years (read Gujarat riots) of the new millennium through communal politics. India now, I argued, could simply not afford to choose the path of racism and hatred over development. It appears I was wholly wrong in my assertion. Akhlaq’s episode has forced me to start weighing up my own options including leaving the country.
Call me a coward, but I’ve seen it all in the last three years. Communalism is no longer confined to uneducated class, it’s now being championed and ruthlessly defended by so-called literate and sophiscated class. The thought that we lived barely 15 minutes away from Dadri is chilling.
We all laughed off the Pakistan jibes made by senior BJP leaders such as Giriraj Singh and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and fooled ourselves that they were just making political speeches when they threatened Muslims to go to Pakistan.
Their comments, as it emerges now, were part of a larger design to make atmosphere so poisonous that no right-minded people can live in the country.
But it was never this bad. Even in the aftermath of 1992 Babri Masjid demolition, the thought of suspecting our Hindu neighbours never occurred to us.
I remember going for Friday prayers five days after the historic monument was brought down by BJP and it’s affiliate organisations. The mosque was situated right in the middle of a densely populated Hindu neighbourhood without a single Muslim family living there. One couldn’t blame our parents to be worried about our safety while visiting that neighbourhood amidst an incredibly communally charged atmosphere of post 6 December of 92 India.
But, there was no end to our joy when we saw local Hindu residents having formed a human chain around the Mosque so that we could offer namaz without any fear. This was also to reassure us that the action of a bunch of thugs ought not to have shaken our belief about the overwhelming majority of Hindu population who cared about communal harmony and the need to preserve India’s multiculturalism.
Let a certain party rule Bengal now and you never know what will happen to that mosque.
Last May, we saw what happened in the BJP ruled Haryana where Muslims weren’t allowed to build a mosque despite a Court’s order simply because the villagers hated the sight of a place of worship for minority community in a Hindu-majority village. Muslims’ houses were torched, properties destroyed and they were forced to flee homes for safety.
The death of a three-year-old Syrian child Aylan Kurdi who did not belong to Europe was enough to shake the collective conscience of European nations prompting them to change their immigration policy to accomodate the victims of war. They simply couldn’t care much about the impact on their political future or the country’s economy.
Europe refused to be a mute spectator to the unfolding refugee crisis even though Aylan was not one of them. Akhlaq was one of those 125 crore Indians Modi often claimed he was the prime minister of. His own leaders’ despicable actions followed by his predictable silence paint a different reality.
Time has come for India’s prime minister to prove that his claim to represent the interest of 125 crore Indians isn’t just another lie. For a change, he needs to break his silence on the prevalent politics of hatred his colleagues have been championing particularly in the post 26 May India.
India is desperately looking at him to demonstrate what he wrote on the wall of Facebook HQ through robust actions on the ground. His failure to condemn the murder of Akhlaq will mean only one thing; that he’s the prime minister of only those who agreed with BJP’s brand of politics. Dare I say that the current politics of hate, if not checked, will have far reaching consequences on the integrity of India in time to come.
The author is the Editor-in-Chief of jantakareporter.com