Religion is another name for love for communities of the world; hate is part of divisive politics, not religion.
PROF RAM PUNIYANI
THE protesters against Nupur Sharma’s (NS) statement on TV show and Navin Jindal’s (NJ) tweet on similar lines, which were defamatory to Prophet Muhammad, have been meted out with firings, arrests and bulldozers. One recalls that when NS made the statement on TV show there were some protests, but overall the Government slept over it till nearly 15 Muslim majority countries started calling our envoys and handing to them the letters of protests. Most of these countries incidentally are Muslim majority countries with poor human rights record.
India has been cultivating its relations with Gulf countries for various reasons. Nearly eight million Indians work there and repatriate major chunk of India’s remittances from abroad. One of these supplies, nearly 40% of Gas, and others not only supply oil but also are good market for Indian products.
It’s after this that Government decided to make a show of taking action. It called these two leaders, with high ranks in the party, as fringe elements. N S is the national spokesperson and NJ is media head of its Delhi unit. They were expelled from the party but no legal action was taken. Sharma-Jindal put forward an apology but the Prime Minister’s silence on the issue was deafening.
In the initial protests, first nearly 34 Muslims were arrested in Kanpur. Later when the charge of one-sided action came forward few others were also arrested. In the protests on 10th June, Friday two boys were killed in Ranchi. In UP and some other places, hundreds of the protesters were arrested; couple of houses belonging to some accused was bulldozed. A video of police official mercilessly beating the arrested Muslim youth in police custody is making rounds.
Where are the law and law protecting authorities? Can police decide to beat the accused? Can the houses be bulldozed without proper legal notice and following the laid down norms as per the law? Is judiciary redundant and executive arm can merrily become the law unto itself?
Other aspect of the issue is the treatment of Muslim minorities during last few years. The issues related to cow-beef, the emergence of lynching as a phenomenon, the targeting of youth on the pretext of love jihad has shaken the community. As the tragedy of Corona unfolded the Government with the support of complaint media put the blame of Covid on Muslims (Tablighi Jamaat), many of them were arrested and then released by courts reprimanding the police that these individuals have been made scapegoats.
In this background many of the elements started boycotting Muslim vegetable vendors in to their housing societies and also calls were given to boycott the Muslim vendors and traders. In due course the issues related to hijab, halal meat, namaz in open places and Azaan also became the tools to intimidate the hapless Muslim minorities. We also painfully witnessed the Dharm Sansads, time and over again giving the call for genocide of Muslims. The Ramnavami processions were used to incite the community. Community as a whole has been relegated to second class citizenship, living marginalised, intimidated life.
In a unique way few from the film World stepped in to further worsen the situation. The biased film based on half truth and blatant lies, ‘Kashmir Files’ was promoted by the spiritual Guru, the RSS chief and those in positions of political power. The polarisation of communities and atmosphere of hate being manufactured became obvious as at the end of the film shows anti-Muslim slogans were up in the air.
The situation has come to such a pass that Gregory Stanton of ‘Genocide Watch’ warns us that India is on the eighth level in the scale of 10, as far as the danger is concerned. So when all this was happening these Gulf countries and Muslim majority countries were keeping mum, as their own record on human rights issue is abysmal. United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in 2022 annual report shows a mirror to the state of affairs here, “Religious freedom Conditions in India are taking a drastic turn downward, with national and various state Governments tolerating widespread harassment and violence against religious minorities.”
The major political parties need to come forward and oppose the gross violations of norms of Constitution, the bulldozer (in)justice and beating of accused in custody should be a strict no. The protests have to be peaceful; the state is also responsible for handling the situation with empathy and justice.
Another equally condemnable thing is the death threat to Nupur Sharma. She should be dealt with as per the law of the land and any such threat should be countered by the state. The Al Qaeda threat is absolutely condemnable. The recent atmosphere is getting vitiated by horrible hate promoting TV debates with some illiterate Maulanas or Pundits spewing hate against each other’s religion. Religion is another name for love for communities of the world; hate is part of divisive politics, not religion.
Our scriptures, of any religion, can be left out from such debates. The context and time when they came are so different from present situation. Hurting one or the other community should be a strict no. At the same time the politics based on places of religious worship and related emotive issues, should strictly be confined to the law of the land. More such emotive issues will be raked up, more situations of such unwarranted statements and protests will come forth.
The need is to respect each other’s religion. On the lines of Gandhi we need to follow, “I believe in the truth of all religions of the world. And since my youth upward, it has been a humble but persistent effort on my (part, added) to understand the truth of all the religions of the world, and adopt and assimilate in my own thought, word, and deed all that I have found to be best in those religions. The faith that I profess not only permits me to do so but renders it obligatory for me to take the best from whatsoever source it may come.” (Harijan, 16-2-34, p. 7). Can this be a part of our social morality?
Ram Puniyani is an eminent author, activist and former professor of IIT Mumbai. The views expressed here are personal and Clarion India does not necessarily share or subscribe to them.