The recent riots in Bulandshahr town in Uttar Pradesh that claimed two lives including that of a police officer over the alleged slaughtering of cows have sent shock waves across India. It was alleged by some right wing Hindu groups that several cows were slaughtered with intent to hurt the religious sentiments of the Hindu community that considers cow as a sacred animal. What is more, it was claimed by the same groups that they had alerted the local police of the matter but apparently the police team led by Mr Subodh Kumar Singh had not taken the complaint seriously and therefore no action was initiated to nab the culprits behind the cow slaughter.
Under the pretext of protesting against the cow slaughter riots were engineered and when Inspector Singh tried to pacify the crowds from turning violent and destructive he was targeted by the unruly mob that eventually took his life. That the whole episode was most barbaric is evident from the fact that the lynch mob not only killed him but also ill-treated his body in such a manner that no civilized society can ever tolerate. It is quite ironic that Mr Singh’s fellow police men could not save him from the lynch mob and had to flee to save themselves. It was also claimed that the main culprit in the whole mayhem was at large and the police were finding it hard to track him down and bring him to book.
While the lynch mob was having their orgy of violence the man at the helm of UP Government was said to be enjoying a laser show totally oblivious to what has happening in Bulandshahr. Given Adityanath’s divisive politics his indifference to the incident is understandable but his comments on the incident that it was an accident is nothing but atrocious. And he was quick to order the state police to nab the culprits behind the cow slaughter rather than apprehend those behind the most repugnant act of lynching two persons. It seems that Mr Adityanath wants to send out a message that animals are more important than human beings - quite a deplorable position any responsible person in the job of governance can ever take.
The response of the slain officer’s adolescent son was certainly deserves much merit in comparison to many politicians’ boorish remarks. He in no uncertain terms termed the brutal killing of his father as fallout of the Hindu- Muslim communal conflict which must be avoided in order for next generation of people in this country to live in peace and harmony. He also added that his father always encouraged him to live an honest and committed life and he desires that the powers be pay attention to that ideal of life.
The slain officer’s sister claimed that his killing was orchestrated by those opposed to his non-partisan approach in policing in the area that came under his jurisdiction. He carried out his duties without fear or favour when it came to issues of law and order involving people of different communities. While that committed approach was his strongest asset, it unfortunately turned out to be his biggest vulnerability as well as he refused to bent backwards with the unjust demands of certain right wing groups that were calling the shots. That these elements had the tacit approval and even open support from the ruling dispensation was more than evident from the fact they exhibited such audacity to orchestrate violence in the name of cow slaughter, created mayhem and even killed a police officer.
It is a serious situation of lawlessness. This is well reflected in the recent open letter of some retired bureaucrats who have expressed their serious concern over Mr Adityanath’s handling of the Bulandshahr violence and called it as a travesty of constitutional responsibility and disregard for ethics of governance. In the same letter they have also called into question the deafening silence of the Prime Minister of the Country who has a greater responsibility of ensuring constitutional propriety in matters of governance.
Communal violence has been a bane of our nation for many decades. Despite heroic efforts of some national leaders to bring about communal harmony, our country has unfortunately witnessed umpteen number of communal flare up wherein we have lost tens of thousands of human lives and hard earned properties worth billions of rupees. It has been said by social activists that communal violence does not happen on the spur of a moment as it often is made out to be, but rather they are engineered by those wanting to reap the benefits of such conflicts. Sad to say, that political parties in India, more than anybody else, have been culpable of creating such social anarchy for their sectarian political ends. Emotive issues are raked up before or during elections and people are divided on the lines of religious faith, caste identities with a view to gain political dividends. Such political manoeuvring may pay short term political benefits to the parties concerned but, it is good to remember that the social friction trail they leave behind is not easy to be erased.
I think it is high time we in India, particularly the political parties need to realize that socially divisive narratives cannot and will not take us forward; on the contrary it pulls us back in terms of social trust building as well promoting patriotic feelings among the citizens. No citizen should be made to feel alien in his own land on account of his religious beliefs, food habits and life style. A strong nation can be built only when its citizens are valued and made stakeholders in the process of its making. It is highly unfortunate and shall I say even appalling to see some sections of the Indian society are bent upon creating social division in the name of religious beliefs thereby creating suspicion among the minds of people. It is a historical fact that India has either given birth to many religions or have embraced others and made them its own. And it is this religious plurality in India that has been the hallmark of our civilization.
However that which has been the beacon of our civilization to the world is being slowly and deliberately ruined by the misguided elements that want to push the agenda of religious uniformity. It sounds as though such uniformity is the panacea for all ills our country is suffering from. There is nothing farther than this. For if that were the case a country like Pakistan or Bangladesh should have been far better off than us. But the hard truth is that they are not; these countries built on the basis of a single religious faith have not been able to hold their folks together. There are any number of sectarian clashes besides the fundamentalist movements and even terrorist outfits operating from within their territories. And they have become a matter of serious concern not only for themselves but also for their neighbouring countries. The founding fathers of the modern Indian state had the foresight to build a new India on the foundations of sarvadharma samabhav. It is this spirit of religious, cultural and linguistic plurality that forms the soul of India; and no responsible citizen of India should ever allow that to be diluted. This time tested plural heritage of India should always be its unique identity.(Published on 24th December 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 52)