According to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Hindus and Sikhs in Kashmir were safe under a Hindu king. Also that the peace in the state in the past was a direct function of a Hindu king ruling it at the time. On the face of it, the statement appears too puerile to be taken seriously. And on second reading, it once again goes to show how toxic-minded sections of senior leadership in the country have become. By Yogi’s logic, Muslims in J&K might turn around and say that despite being a majority community they were an oppressed lot under a Hindu king. Or that there would be peace if the state happened to accede to Pakistan. And Sikhs and the other minorities in the country will say something along the similar lines.
In any case, Yogi’s statement is sufficient to make the minorities, particularly Muslims, deeply insecure. In Kashmir, it yet again reveals the design and will in the Hindutva fold to remake Kashmir in their own image. Hence the relentless effort to withdraw the special constitutional status enjoyed by the state under the Indian Constitution that safeguards the existing demographic composition of the state. The ongoing legal challenge to Article 35A being the case in point.
There is thus a legitimate skepticism in J&K about the moves of the centre under a BJP-led government. There is a growing realization that the new India has little space for the minorities, their distinctness and way of life. In fact, there cant even be an alternative way of life. Sections of people in the country are not permitted to have grievances and alternative political aspirations.
Shockingly enough, the new communally tinged political rhetoric plied by the likes of Yogi has now become so much a part of the mainstream discourse, that except for Kashmir, Yogi’s statement has barely attracted any adverse reaction from the opposition parties in the country. The Congress party, on the contrary, has sought to reinforce its Hindu credentials by practising a soft Hindutva politics. On the campaign trail in five Indian states going to polls shortly, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has once again made a beeline for Hindu temples to ensure he is seen as a genuine Hindu by the people. In such an environment, it is hardly surprising that Yogi’s statement has gone uncontested. The outcome of the state elections and the subsequent general polls thus hardly matters for the minorities.
But there is a hope that a secular opposition would come along and assert itself. India is at a fork in the road: we could either have a country where the BJP creed becomes dominant, forcing other parties to fall in line or a secular fightback, this time hopefully in its bonafide avatar.
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