Urgent need to save India from destruction

People from both religions jointly celebrating each other’s festivals and religious functions is commonly seen in various parts of India. This is not acceptable to many communal forces, who are continuing the divisive legacy of the British

Abhay MokashiUpdated: Monday, October 17, 2022, 04:58 PM IST
article-image
Representative Image | File

A bridge at Chandni Chowk in Pune was recently demolished with the use of dynamite. The demolition itself took just a few minutes, though it took hours to clear the debris. It must have taken several years to construct the bridge, but bringing it down was quick. A similar thing is happening in the social sector of the country. The bridge across the communal divide, which took years of hard work by many peace-loving individuals to build, is now sought to be demolished.

The demolition of the road bridge in Pune was required in order to widen the road, to make movement of traffic faster and easier, in public interest. That is not the case with the efforts to pull down the bridge of love, friendship and camaraderie among various religious groups in the country, especially Hindus and Muslims. This is not for the first time that destructive elements are trying to damage the fabric of communal harmony; it has been attempted several times earlier, before Independence and after. It is well known that the British Empire used the divide-and-rule policy in India to continue its hold on the country. Yet, members of both religious groups must be given credit for maintaining communal harmony, by and large.

People from both religions jointly celebrating each other’s festivals and religious functions is commonly seen in various parts of India, especially Maharashtra and West Bengal. This is not acceptable to many communal forces, who are continuing the divisive legacy of the British with the intention of polarising religious groups, so that political parties that stand on religious grounds can gain mileage to remain in power. The strategy is to consolidate the Hindu vote bank, by creating an anti-Muslim public opinion in the country. Various methods are being used to reach this goal. On one hand, fake information against Muslims is being spread via various means of communication, including social media, or by taking action against members of the community under various laws and declaring them as guilty without waiting for court orders. A large section of the mainstream media is party to this false propaganda. Another method being used is to deliver or spread hate speech against the community, either directly naming it or with oblique references.

If individuals or groups of people are guilty of violation of any law/s in the country, they should be brought to book, irrespective of which religion they follow. Equality before the law is guaranteed under our Constitution and that has to be observed. That does not seem to happen in practice. People have been arrested the charge of being Naxalite supporters; many leaders of the Naxalite movement and those professing a similar ideology have been arrested, some accused of sedition. At the same time, leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Hindu religious organisations are allowed to go scot-free after giving speeches inciting hate and even advocating violence.

The silent support of the government and its agencies to propagators of hatred against Muslims was seen when the Delhi Police stated that the speech by Suresh Chavanke, which appealed to people to take up arms to protect their religion (Hinduism), was made to empower his religion. However, the Supreme Court asked the Delhi Police to file the affidavit again, after revising it.

The government cannot be selective in taking action against those advocating violence, but that is not the reality, as has been experienced in many situations. Some fanatics spread the the fear that Hindus will soon be in a minority in the country, given the higher rate of growth of Muslims in the country. But that is not the reality, as government records show that the population growth of Muslims in the country has dropped. Even otherwise, logic tells us that it will take centuries for Muslims to outgrow Hindus in India, in terms of population, given their numbers in the country. The only way Muslims can surpass the Hindu population in the country in a short span of time is for crores of Hindus to convert to Islam, which is not possible.

The appeal by rabble-rousers to boycott goods and services provided by Muslims will damage not just Muslims but the country in a much bigger way. If any group of individuals, Muslim or otherwise, is made financially weak, it will affect the country as they will not be able to contribute to the national economy. This has to be understood by those who are “fragmenting the people by narrow domestic walls”.

Another thing to be understood is that the hate speeches are not only a step towards the fantasy of a establishing a Hindu Rashtra, but are also meant to divert public attention from burning issues before the nation like inflation, unemployment, attacks on certain communities and the problems of the underprivileged, to mention a few.

Appropriate legal action is no doubt required against those delivering hate speeches or spreading hatred, but such acts cannot be stopped merely by law — a change in the mindset of members of the public is required.

It is time for the people to reject such communal hatred and strive for communal harmony, otherwise it will cause great damage to the Indian nation — damage that will be more than what Pakistan or China can cause to us.

The author is a senior journalist and media trainer. He tweets at @a_mokashi

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

Pakistan must seize the opportunity to end Kashmir dispute

Pakistan must seize the opportunity to end Kashmir dispute

Judicial overreach is not the answer to our democracy’s flaws

Judicial overreach is not the answer to our democracy’s flaws

The optics, and politics, of development

The optics, and politics, of development

Editorial: Ensure women’s safety in Mumbai

Editorial: Ensure women’s safety in Mumbai

No nitpicking in The Kashmir Files fracas

No nitpicking in The Kashmir Files fracas