The Dadri incident is shameful and barbaric. Or maybe these words are not enough to even sum it up. But what is equally horrific is the systematic polarization in popular discourse. The scaremongering that Hindus and Muslims cannot live in peace is being taken to an all-time high. Repeatedly reminding the minorities that they are unsafe in this country, that the central government is against them and cares less is being played on loop.
Now this is something to seriously loathe about. Why do activists and sections of Indian Media need to remind people that they are lesser in number and hence insignificant and insecure? One Dadri doesn’t change anything. The plight of Kashmiri Pandits or the Gujarat riots hasn’t made Hindus and Muslims enemies. So even as some sections of Indian Media are now on their full time job at playing ‘divide and rule’; the reality says nothing has changed.
We do not need to go far. Bisada village where Akhlaq was lynched over supposed allegations of cow slaughter has stories no one wants us to see. When communal tensions rose in the village, three Hindus led about seventy members of a Muslim joint family to safety, thereby saving them from an unruly mob. A 65 year old Muslim man says that he owes his lives to these Hindu men.
A source also points out that the deceased man’s grieving family is living with their Hindu neighbors now. India has been a land of shared lives. Even if Hindus have expressed anguish, it has been over appeasement or fundamentalism. It has never been about annihilation of Muslims or Christians. In day to day lives, in a nine to five race, coexistence has continued for centuries.
The people that killed Akhlaq is a mob. They are killers of an Indian man. They do not uphold a religion.
And it is time the common Indian shows the makers of division their real place. At a time dividing Hindus and Muslims was for votes. Now it has become more dangerous. You are divided for TRPs, you are divided for sale of newspapers and magazines. Is this nation made of such gullible people that they would crumble on the face of these lies? Or would we say that the mob in Dadri is ruling India? Or is the mob in India the face of every Hindu?
Instead of writing umpteen Op eds about how Muslims are insecure in India, would the Indian Media care to call about achievement of coexistence? When Dadri was not in news, there was a blink and miss incident of a Muslim man performing the last rites of his Hindu friend in Madhya Pradesh.
Razzak Khan Tikari’s friend Santosh was critically ill and passed away last month. He was survived by his wife and little daughter. Razzak assumed the responsibility and cremated his friend as per Hindu rituals. ‘Religion should not become a barrier in friendship’, Razzak was quoted saying.
People who issue fatwas or riot are of course not bigger symbols of India that Razzak. The Ganpati pandal in Colaba that was used by 1300 Muslims to offer prayers on Bakri Eid is probably a practice more in sync to the ‘Idea of India’. However, if we have to fall for an imaginary idea of India that sections of the Indian Media wants to sell, then peace shall remain just a utopia.
The nun rape, the church attacks, and repeated ‘Are Muslims safe in Modi’s India’ remain just blank noise. There is no religious terrorism in it, and the discourse hasn’t helped India’s idea of pluralism. The people sitting on their high chairs with columns entitled to them have created an environment of a supposed religious war like situation in the country.
And then what does the common man do? Believe in this make belief idea of a blood thirsty nation and recoil in fear?
Even as the scaremongering continued recently a young Muslim woman in Mumbai, went into labour almost suddenly. The heartless cabbie forced her and her husband out of his vehicle. They were near a Ganesh temple. The elderly ladies there, took the woman under their wing made a make shift unit and looked after her delivery. The father was called to see his new born son.
But would this make news? Muslim boy born in Hindu temple? Why is this not the ‘Idea of India’? Why is ‘Muslim man killed by Hindu mob’ the only headline? Why is Razzak’s vow of friendship to Santosh not the headline?
Scores of men and women across the country do not have access to the internet. Many do not have the time. They will not dig into positive stories and look at the imaginary erosion of Indian Unity. Probably it is time to act. To keep this country intact, one need to call the lies, loudly and clearly. India is and was multicultural. Just as we cannot give it on a platter to blood thirsty fundamentals, we cannot give it to people with powerful pens. For them it is just another Op Ed. For us it is a nation that has got freedom because people from all religion have bled.
Cover Image Credits: nytimes.com