To lynch or not ?

Causing distress to your neighbor from the minority community is, am saddened to say, becoming some form of a sport

M. L. Kotru
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jul 21 2018 9:59PM | Updated Date: Jul 21 2018 9:59PM
To lynch or not ?File Photo

What kind of an uncivilized caption is that: to lynch or not? In a flourishing land, blessed by its many gods and peopled by the world’s second largest population, and not to forget one that was spoken of in  the past as  'sone ki chidiya’, betokening its  immense riches unknown to  any other people, gods included, to play with, you may indeed question the use of the term uncivilized in such a context. But then that is the most horrifying aspect of my story this week. Yes, lynching innocent citizens, not of your faith or caste, killing in the name of cow or staking a baseless claim even to graveyards point in just one direction, complete intolerance which may well turn us into an unmanageable anarchy. Not that it is not getting closer to being there. In places as distant as Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand etc., causing distress to your neighbor from the minority community is, am saddened to say, becoming some form of a sport. Lynching and arson may at this rate look more like they once used to play a kabaddi match in the districts. Not to speak here of the warlike situation in parts of Kashmir valley as the Security Forces pursue their unending operation “all out” or “clean up”.

 

Take your pick of the nomenclature the Indian sub-continent may not have been unfamiliar with faith - based rioting (we used to be told then it’s a part of the British strategy of divide and rule) - , caste-based  bloodshed rioting  in the past. Generally we tend to blame the British for injecting communal poison into the sub-continental body-politic in pursuit of their policy of divide and rule. Yes, the British did contribute their mite; the rest of it was fanned by the feuding Rajas and Nawabs (curiously their forces on either side having soldiers from either community).

 

In between the two world wars as the British had begun sensing an upsurge in the India=-Pak freedom movement  a section of Hindu right extremists had raised  their militant political  arm, now known as the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, truly, the mother of all today’s rightist Hindu outfits including the Bharatiya Janata Party and the rest from the Hindutva family. What fueled Gandhi’s murder, right under the noses of Nehru and Patel, saw the RSS extending its activities, stealthily to begin with but wholly unhindered thereafter as the Nehru-Gandhi era moved towards closure. And true to its book anti-minorityism, anti-Muslim essentially - moved out front  as the RRS quickened its growth process with the BJP, by then a bit more assertive, providing the proverbial fig-leaf for it to gain acceptance as a major socio-religious cum political force Hindu revivalists of all hues have over the yars come under the Hindutva umbrella, with its nationalist, majoritarian  Hindu Rashtra agenda out front as it soldiers on to achieve its objective. The RSS makes no bones of what it is after and Modi and his senior colleagues continue to be swayamsewaks (Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu is on record in the Lok Sabha declaring  that all us from the BJP continue to be Swayamsewaks). If you try to reason out the necessity of their being so violently opposed to the presence of minorities, essentially the Muslim minority, a thousand and one reasons shall be cited without even really trying. Hate for Muslims is pathological or so it would seem to me. I am no scholar-expert on matters RSS but I do confess to a  3-month-old  relationship with it in 1944 when I was at school probably in Srinagar when they put in their first appearance in my neighborhood temple-yard in Srinagar. And the first lesson on second or third morning was that Islam is evil, Muslims are bad, we have to undo the humiliations heaped by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb on Hindus. Every ill that besets Hindu country  now or before has  to be linked with the presence of Islam in India. And it doesn’t really make sense to them when you argue that Islam made it appearance in the sub-continent long before some of the faiths now, native to India, were born. Be that, as it may (and it can only be repetitive). It is indeed understandable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the senior RSS pracharak now turned the Prime Minister of India, should choose the path of the deaf and the mute to condemn his party men, including some of his Ministers and a whole range of MPs, when they whiplash the Muslim minority for one reason or another. With next year’s elections staring him in  the eye – and the Opposition for the most part still in disarray - he certainly would not like to be seen breaking bread with the Muslims. Yes, he would be willing to throw a crumb or two their way but no more. Mr Modi is at best dismissive of questioning Muslims such as the former Vice-President Hamid Ansari. Remember Modi’s most discourteous behavior at the farewell to the then retiring Vice-President calling him names marginally short of being a desh drohi. Not that strong I admit but hardly complimentary. But that is not lynching, Ansari must have known what to expected of his Prime Minister, the former RSS pracharak, but it was  a bit encouraging – not the chilling diatribes of BJP leader – to hear the Supreme Court of Indian finally asking about the spate of mob lynchings that have increasingly become a norm – lynching of Muslims and Dalits alike. In  a sordid reflection on criminal dereliction of a constitutionally mandated duty the apex court held the Central and State Governments accountable for the unchecked spate, of mob lynchings that had raised doubts over whether we are living in civilized society in which the rule of law prevails. Questions could be asked why the Court had taken this long to intervene, if at all. Unquestionably it is a collective shame and New Delhi cannot wriggle out of taking the  major responsibility. For this in ordinary breakdown of law and order, most of the lynchings have the underpinning that indicts the overly religious saints of the present dispensation - cow vigilantes and ghar wapsi goons are the creation of an anti-minority – read anti-Muslim - campaign spearheaded by the RSS to save the cow and its progeny and to browbeat the Muslims into accepting second class citizenship. Only token comfort could be drawn by the BJP that the Supreme Court  has asked the parliament to enact anti-lynching-specific legislation. I wonder if it was necessary to, if only the existing laws were faithfully  implemented, for it will be the saffronites that will have to pilot the legislation that actually exposes its own unwillingness or incompetence. For it will be Mr Modi’s government that will have to expose its incompetence and skewed thinking on the issue. For the record it must be noted that the apex court was finally impelled to draw the attention of the government to its fundamental responsibilities. It is a very negative projection of the prevailing quality of governance. India must meanwhile continue to live in shame.

 

 

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