Violence is very much part of Hindutva politics, and sadly large number of BJP voters seem to have no problem with it.
By M Reyaz,
Few weeks ago, a well meaning Hindu friend asked me during a friendly banter, why had I liked an article on social media that criticised the renaming of Aurangzeb road; suggesting was not the Mughal Emperor brute, who deserved little respect. I responded to him saying, I have no love or hatred for the Mughals, but do not the fact that of all roads, one particular was picked presumably of a ‘bad’ Muslim to replace with another ‘good’ Muslim APJ Abdul Kalam smirk of dirty politics those in power is playing.
The debate consequently shifted on the current Hindutva politics and the hate mongering by their leaders who feel emboldened since the 2014 general elections that gave the right wing party absolute majority. Does not it bother you, I implored, that in the name of terrorism, Ghar Wapsi, Love Jihad, beef ban, and what not certain community is being singled out each time and they are made to feel as if they do not belong to the country – go to Pakistan if you don’t agree to this or would not subscribe to it at best or shown Qabristan at worst? My friend contested that the large number of voters wanted change and actually voted for development and they do not necessarily subscribe to the narrow and violent politics espoused by the Hindutva forces.
Aggrieved family members of Mohammad Akhlaq (Courtesy: The Hindu)
On September 28, Monday night a mob of over 200 (some say nearly thousand people) attacked the house of Mohammad Akhlaq at Bisara village in Dadri, rural parts of National Capital Region’s Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh, hacking 58 years old Akhlaq to death, while his younger son is severely injured and is still critical in the hospital. His daughter Sajida has alleged that they tried to molest her as well.
As I browsed through the social media last few days, a large number of people, including some senior journalists, who are otherwise so vocal on social media on almost every issue, whether its skirmishes on the border, the hanging of Yaqub Menon or the renaming of the Aurangzeb road, largely appeared unfazed by the incident, or mentioned about the incident like they write about other news. For them it was business as usual! Worse, some suggested this is not the first time mob got violent on beef issue; or condemned it as there was mere suspicion, as if proved that the person in question committed ‘sin’ of consuming/storing beef, mob action was justified!
The group of self proclaimed vigilantes at Dadri could mobilise a mob from the village temple, and attack the house of an air force personnel, hacking his father and severely injuring his younger brother on the false pretext that the family had slaughtered, consumed and stored beef because they knew that although on paper, they might be committing a crime, but they would practically get away with this due to virtual impunity the perpetrators of such crimes have in India.
Scandalous as it may sound, that’s the sad reality of the 21st century India that aspires to become ‘Digital’. Only days ago another Muslim man was lynched by mob in Kanpur on the suspicion that he was a terrorist from Pakistan and few days later a 90 year old Dalit was hacked and burnt alive in Hamirpur. We have also conveniently forgotten that in March, a Muslim trader was lynched for allegedly raping a woman in Dhimapur, Nagaland and in June last year, an engineer was hacked to death by communal frenzy mob in Pune. The Delhi gang rape incited outrage in the capital and on national media, but we did not see similar anger when several women, according to some estimate over 100, were raped during the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013 or when three young Dalit girls were raped in Bhagana in Haryana. The murder of at least three rationalists in last one year alone similarly incites little outrage.
Except an ever shrinking group of Left leaning activists and self procliamed liberals most in India appear to be basking in the glory of post-liberalisation growth and live in the make-believe world of hallowed promises made by certain leaders that leave little space for disagreement or dissent. Those with different point of view are quickly dubbed as anti-national, hurting the sentiments of the majority, anti certain leaders or party; consequently fit cases to be lynched. Browse through the social media on any day and someone is lynched virtually and threatened to be lynched in real world as well because you disagree or refuse to surrender to their whims. Anyone and everyone, who dissent, is not part of the same crowd or belong to ‘others’ can hence become an easy target as the lynch mob knows that the majority will support them by practically maintaining a deafening silence that would consequently give them impunity even in court of laws, which anyways are increasingly mindful of the ‘collective conscience.’
The meta-narrative our leaders have promoted are so eschewed that the collective conscience our nation has consequently developed is very narrow and suffers from selective amnesia. So long as you are not part of this narrative, you can be a target, whether you are an outspoken academician, rights activist or journalist, or belong to any marginalised Dalit, tribal or minority communities.
From Nellie to Hashmipura, from Delhi 1984 to Gujarat 2002 to Muzaffarnagar 2013 thus while the long wait of victims never seem to end although the list keep growing, a CM who at best failed to control the riots has become the Prime Minister, while his party colleagues Sanjeev Baliyan accused of inciting the mob in 2013 in Western UP as well Giriraj Singh rabidly asking Muslims to go to Pakistan are made cabinet ministers. To even expect some stern actions from the current government to send strong message against rabble rousers would be a wishful dream.
It is no surprise then that as soon as the lynching in Dadri happened, Union Minister Mahesh Sharma dubbed it as an “accident” which was outcome of “misunderstanding” and in a way sort to justify it by giving ‘action-reaction’ argument while local BJP leaders went to the extent of calling the arrested youths “innocent” who only committed the crime in “excitement” and even demanded their release. And now another riot accused, who by the way was earlier with ‘secular’ Samjwadi Party, Sangeet Som has threatened with consequences like past.
It’s not the pretext of “anger”, but the fact that an unruly mob can muster the courage to lynch with such impunity should put all the citizens of the largest democracy we take so much pride in to shame. The communal rhetoric filled politics where the loud mouth is an important winnability factor and the number of riots one instigated to safeguard the ‘culture’ or ‘honour’ with virtual impunity can help you become ministers; will only encourage lynch mob mentality and that’s the dark side of digital India, despite the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi writes on the wall of the Facebook headquarter that Ahimsa is the greatest Dharma.
(M Reyaz is the Assistant Editor of TwoCircles.net. He tweets at @journalistreyaz )