By Tanvi Sharma
Edited by Anandita Malhotra, Senior editor, The Indian Economist
A multitude of ever growing Hindu nationalist organizations, clashes between communities over land for temples, mosques, gurudwaras or shrines, cow slaughter, blaring loudspeakers in places of worship, a sinister campaign of ‘love jihad’; all this and more has been making headlines for quite some time now. Matters become worse when recalcitrant politicians employ intensively divisive agendas for a series of electoral harvests.
Communal organizations are bent on fomenting animosities because of the benefits they will accrue thereafter. However, we as responsible citizens of the country must understand that religion is just a matter of faith. It should not and must not be converted into an instrument of spreading abhorrence which makes a person detest another solely based on their religion. It is something that lends certain purity to our existence and keeps faith and hope intact in our minds. How can a feeling so chaste invoke even the slightest amount of the sentiment of hatred among individuals? In fact, it is not religion which is leading to communal clashes, whereas our personal egos clashing in the way of peaceful practice of religion.
Many corners of the country are gradually demonstrating signs of hatred and distrust against the minority communities, especially the Muslims. The country’s largest minority is living in fear and trepidation. Communal skirmishes and sectarian hate have propelled India’s Muslims to lead a harrowing existence, troubled by the state and society alike.
In Muzaffarnagar, a motorcycle accident was fabricated into a story of stalking for ‘love jihad’. The recent Saharanpur and Pune clashes are still fresh in our memories and etched deep in our minds. Hindus and Muslims are fighting over meager issues such as the blaring of loudspeakers in places of worship. The reason being cited is that the prayers are being disturbed. How can prayers be disturbed? Are prayers not the silent, inner connection that we make with the Supreme Being? What have prayers got to do with a loudspeaker? In Meerut, a young Hindu woman teacher in a madrassa who underwent a late abortion became the centre of murky charges of gang rape and forced conversion. Cow slaughter has been yet again invoked as an issue to heighten communal tensions. Disputes are arising over small accidents and even out of children’s cricket matches. Where is our country headed? To make matters worse insensitive reactions and irresponsible statements in response to the atrocities committed are declared, leaving the situation in wanton chaos.
Riots and sectarian violence can be quelled if the local authorities as well as the state governments act in a more vigilant and authoritative manner. Politicians need to keep their electoral benefits aside for the larger interests of the nation. A BJP MP telling a Muslim MP to go to Pakistan on the floor of the parliament is a statement which needs to be decried wholeheartedly. The RSS cadre, rooting for Hindu nationalism has mounted fear among the nation’s largest minority since the RSS is the parent body of the BJP. Politicians as well as Hindu organizations coining sinister terms such as “love jihad” are utterly disgraceful. Hindu Muslim alliances should not be politicized at all. A person’s individual freedom to choose his or her partner irrespective of religion should not be curtailed. Parties are trying to win elections through extremely distasteful means. Amit Shah recently said that J&K needs a nationalist government. To add to this, Shyam Lal Sharma said that J&K needs a Hindu CM. Is nationalism the sole proprietary of the BJP as well as the Hindus? Certainly not!
We are proud that people from all parts of the country as well as from different religious groups including the minorities have been office bearers. Dr. Kalam and Dr. Manmohan Singh lead by example. Our Constitution guarantees certain fundamental rights to all communities as well as takes care of the minority rights. No favor or bias is acceptable in a democracy like ours. I am proud to be a part of a country where people have different cultures but shared histories.
Politicians as well as civilians need to understand their responsibilities and not indulge in violence or hatred of any form. Insensitive remarks should be dealt with decisively. Moreover, I am waiting for an otherwise loquacious prime minister to break his studied silence on the issue of communal violence!Tanvi firmly believes in the power of words over weapons. She is here to change the way people look at things. An avid reader, a closet singer and an inveterate foodie who can live her entire life on the Internet.