‘Final battle’ with Muslims

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In a chilling speech at the condolence meeting of the slain  VHP worker Arun Mahaur, BJP and RSS leaders on stage warned Muslims of a “final battle”. Speakers, one of whom was union minister of state for Human Resource Development  Ram Shankar Katheria, referred to Muslims as “demons” and “descendants of Ravana”. They urged Hindus to “corner Muslims and destroy the demons. They declared that “all preparations” had been made to exact revenge before the 13th-day death rituals for Mahaur. “Human skulls would be offered to his martyrdom,” VHP district secretary Ashok Lavania, who has been jailed earlier for assaults on Muslims, said.

The 5,000-odd crowd chanted slogans such as “Jis Hindu ka khoon na khaule, khoon nahin wo pani hai (the Hindu whose blood doesn’t boil isn’t Hindu enough)”. The speakers also called on people to fire bullets,  take up rifles, and wield knives. “Elections are approaching in 2017, begin showing your strength from now onwards,” the crowds were asked.

Even two days after the event, the government has taken no action against the speakers. This is a far cry from the overnight galvanization of the state machinery to arrest the JNU students for their alleged shouting of slogans against Afzal Guru’s hanging and in favour of Kashmir’s Azadi. All fire and brimstone, both home minister Rajnath Singh and the HRD minister Smriti Irani came on camera  and issued aggressive statements against the JNU and the protesting students. Three students including JNU president Kanhaiya Kumar are in jail. Kashmiri students have been a special target of the harassment. But no such action has followed in case of Agra event. More so when an entire community has been threatened and an open call to arms has been made by no less than a union minister himself.

 The event generated some uproar in the Lok Sabha, leading to its adjournment. This state of affairs is depressing. It once again raises troubling questions about India of today. Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has termed 2015 as the most polarizing year since partition.  Speaking at the launch of his book, ‘Standing Guard – A year in Opposition’, Chidamabaram said that 2015 didn’t end with narrative of economy as was expected. “Instead, it ended with the narrative of intolerance, of confrontation, with more and more people apprehensive and insecure,” he said.

In a sense, India has ceased to be a democracy in terms of the rule of law and where all citizens are treated equal irrespective of their caste, creed and colour. It is a brute majoritarianism in full play and acting out its foul agenda in the garb of nationalism.  The fringe sections among the majority community backed by the political, ideological and the institutional support are out to appropriate the country and impose their own narrow cultural ethic. The beef ban issue defines this cultural onslaught more than anything else. And if there was any doubt that the intimidation, threats and the lumpenism on display lacked an active encouragement from the governing structures of the country, it was removed by the minister Ram Shankar Katheria. Far from getting any better, the situation is deteriorating further.  And if anybody is in a position to redeem things, it is the Prime Minister Modi himself. It is, therefore, time that he speaks up. But this looks unlikely to happen. In fact, Modi’s silence on such occasions becomes deafening and hence more meaningful about his own position on the evolving disturbing situation.

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