In the recent past, there has been some initiation of the debate about the place of Muslims in the country. Sections of media have given some tentative space to the concerns of the minority community. Several opinion pieces have focussed on the beleaguered plight of the community. On social media hashtags like #talktoaMuslim have gone viral. But so far as the situation on the ground is concerned, it has only been deteriorating further. Lynchings of Muslims and Dalits have continued unabated.
On Friday last, a 28-year-old Muslim man Akbar was allegedly lynched by villagers on suspicion of cow smuggling in Alwar, Rajasthan. The victim was transporting cows on foot when he and his friend Aslam were questioned by villagers in Ramgarh police jurisdiction. However, when they tried to run away, the mob chased them and caught them. While Akbar was assaulted and killed on the spot, Aslam managed to escape. The killing has generated little more than a news. So much has the phenomenon been normalized that there is now a little expression of any public outrage? It seems the entire country has been divested of its collective nobility.
If anything it shows how little the warnings against lynchings matter and how killing Muslims over the flimsiest reasons has become a sport in the country. A part of the reason for this is that the successive lynchings of Muslims have forced little deterrent action from the top. The PMs rare expressions of displeasure have hardly been translated into action. No stern action has been taken against the perpetrators to prevent recurrence of such incidents. On the contrary, there seems an implicit government and social sanction for these brutal killings.
The government has taken no demonstrative steps to ensure such incidents dont recur. On the contrary, the attempt has been to rationalize these killings and sometimes a part of the blame has been foisted on the victims too. However, the religious violence and the lynchings are more the symptoms of a new India under Modi than the disease itself. And the disease is the new political sensibility in the country. The new ruling intelligence is explicitly informed by the resolve to reclaim India for the majority community. Many outfits who claim to represent the exclusive interests of Hindus have felt empowered. And their leaders have felt free to issue communally-tinged statements which have vitiated the atmosphere. However, while Modi’s leadership has strengthened fringe communal elements and made them mainstream, the secularism in India has taken a mortal beating. That is, even though secularism in India wasn’t all that it professed to be before Modi arrived on the scene.
The past four years have seen the Muslims become the targets of a ruthless right-wing violence, one that now seems to enjoy a degree of social sanction. Not only are Muslims and also Dalits being threatened and subjected to recurrent mob violence but they are also facing an increasing institutional bias. We are confronted with a bigoted state of affairs. And it wont go away unless the government starts seeing merit in Indias diversity and wants to preserve it rather than continue with an all-out push for the homogenization in the country.
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