Look back to 14 August 1947and lament. Shed tears. Think of the horrors people had to suffer. Hatred unleashed between Hindus and Muslims! Revenge, massacre, rape and blood bath! Are these the mindless horrors the Prime Minister of India wants us to remember on every eve of 15 August and then celebrate with abandon Independence Day?
To me it looks like your near and dear ones were murdered and buried and you celebrate immediately thereafter! Mindless logic!
Why wield the surgeon’s knife on an already healed wound? Seven-and-a-half decades have gone by. Why rake up the past? What is the motive? Is it a call for all Hindus and Muslims to embrace one another in sadbhavana as Indian brothers and sisters and look ahead? Is it a call to bury the hatchet of communal venom and build a safe and secure India with enough space for all Indians to live in this secular nation?
If Mr. Modi’s call is such a sanguine one, it needs to be appreciated. All cooperation needs to be accorded to him to refashion Indian populace suffused with human feelings and fraternal affection.
However, many feel that, in the context in which we have been living in India, Modi’s clarion calls are but tongue-in-cheek exercises full of sound bites, signifying nothing. Ever since the partition, the Indian Muslims have been looked upon with suspicion bordering on hatred.
Pulling down Babri Masjid without any legal sanction proved that the might of the majority community was enough to pull down and pulverize a minority community. The nation has witnessed such venomous exercises in the Gujarat pogrom and the numberless attacks on minority personnel and minority institutions.
Terrorizing Muslim community, showering abuses and invectives, and telling Muslims to get out and go to Pakistan or get lost, lynching people on fake rumour of keeping beef at home or hanging Muslims for taking home a farm animal are not isolated incidents.
A day or two before the Independence Day celebrations, a Muslim was thrashed and killed in front of his child. He was punished for not shouting Jai Shree Ram. BBC’s Geeta Pandey asks, why a holy name like Ram has been turned into a murder cry. She was asking the question in the context of a Hindu lynch mob assaulting 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari tied to a pole in Jharkhand and forcing him to shout Jai Shri Ram. According to reports, he shouted as he was told, and, after the mob’s operation, he was handed over to the police. The police locked him up and, four days later, he died of injuries sustained during the attack.
Was Mr. Modi there to wipe the blood soaked tears streaming down from Ansari’s eyes or to order jailing of the culprits? Assam or Mumbai, Kolkata or UP, people cannot travel safely because any time a mob can jump on you to force you to chant Jai Shri Ram.
Has Mr. Modi any time come out to warn the saffron-banded lynch mob that using Ram’s name to unleash violence risks widening India’s religious divide? Wasn’t he the Chief Minister when Gujarat burnt and Muslims in Gujarat were hounded like dogs and killed in cold blood? The police officer who revealed on oath that Modi gave certain instructions has been in jail for his honesty and courage.
According to Saurabh Trivedi in the The Hindu, 3 July 2020, ‘Nine Muslim young men, who were killed and their bodies thrown in a drain during the February communal riots in north-east Delhi, were forced to shout Jai Shri Ram before they were stripped, thrashed and bludgeoned to death.’ Will Mr. Modi, who feels the pain of partition pangs, go down on his knees in humility and ask pardon from the family members of those nine victims? Then we shall believe the genuineness of his call to feel the pangs of August 14.
Will he have the courage to apologise to the minority communities in India for the mindless crimes against humanity perpetrated by the agenda-based Hindu mobs? Then we shall believe that he is sincere in his call to feel the pre-Independence horror unleashed against Hindus and Muslims? As yet, it was not clear which victims he was referring to. Granted that he was referring to both Hindus and Muslims in genuine concern, he should be given credit for it. However, the ever increasing communal violence and venomous vomit we are faced with do not add up to merit genuineness in Modi’s call.
Rather, many feel, it will generate more communal passions especially in the foot soldiers of the Sang Parivar. It will embolden god men, god women and politicians to get more communally aggressive. Some dare ask: Is it not a ploy to bolster the already heightened communal feelings?
If Modi as the Prime Minister of the nation wants us to look back towards the pre-independent horrors, we would invite him to honestly look back to the pangs of pain suffered by members of different minority communities ever since the independence. Many lost their dear ones. Many lost their property and assets. Many religious institutions, Christian and Muslim, were destroyed. Churches bulldozed. Crosses dishonoured. Shrines desecrated. Such horrendous happenings are almost everyday reality in this secular India. Where are Modi’s feelings? We call on Mr. Modi to shed tears of apology in empathy with the victims of people who suffered at the hand of lynch mobs and foot soldiers.
Parakala Prabhakar, 60, a former communications adviser to the government of Andhra Pradesh and husband of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks without mincing words: ‘He (Mr. Modi) wants us to revive the memories of the poison of communal hatred that engulfed us seventy-five years ago and carry that hemlock in our minds and hearts until 2047. Can there be any other purpose behind that announcement?’ (Midweek Matters)
In other words, the motive is clear. Whip up communal passion in the name of the partition pangs of the Hindu community with political agenda and as pre-election propaganda. Are these good religious principles Mr. Prime Minister?
Time to move on Mr. Modi. Time to bury the hatchet of animosity and communal venom. Teach your disciples this worthy lesson. Tell them that the nation’s name has gone down in the eyes of the world. We need to repair our sullied image. Let the best principles in every religion be fostered as our food for thought and action. If the followers of a religion indulge in mindless killings and depravities, then they are non-genuine bhakts.
Which bhakt the Lord loves? “He who has let go of hatred who treats all beings with kindness and compassion, - that is the man I love best.” (The Bhagavad Gita)
Manusmriti prescribes eligibility for salvation in the following words: “By not killing any living being, one becomes eligible for salvation (Manusmriti 6. 60). Padma Purana says, “Ahimsa (non-violence) is the highest duty” (Padma Purana 1.31.27). Patanjali Yoga describes Ahimsa as ‘having no ill feeling for any living being, in all manners possible and for all times is called ahimsa, and it should be the desired goal of all seekers’ (Patanjali Yoga Sutras, 2.30).
With such noble ethical and moral principles in Hindu religion, how can its followers indulge in terror, lynching, and killing or spread venomous hatred towards other religious communities?
Teach them those good lessons. Teach them that Ram is a holy god of the Hindu community and using Jai Shri Ram as a murderous call will only bring disrepute to the Hindu community.
It is time to move on Mr. Prime Minister from predictions and promises to acts that evoke confidence in your listeners. Time to stop using religion as a tool to climb the ladder of politics; time to stop using power as a stick to beat people with dissenting opinion; time to promote Sadbhavana among the people of this land rather than create walls of animosity and mutual suspicion. Let honesty and truthfulness be the watchwords of every leader. Let our leaders learn to empathise with the cause of every citizen of this country. Bereft of such qualities, our leaders are but winnowed chaff. The nation deserves better!