Blaming Hindu religious processions for communal violence unmasks India’s self-anointed secularists
The politics of procession is an oft-repeated diatribe that becomes a convenient excuse to tarnish a certain community. However, what often gets buried under the reams of such atrocious literature is the fact that communalism does not express itself via politics
The discourse has been rather charitable in abusing the Hindutva brigade when it comes to instances of communal violence. But the trend to offer a selective reading -- as has been presented in several shoddy attempts -- and claim a grand theory is becoming rather stale. The irony of the timing perhaps, given the backdrop of the bogey being raised in light of the recent attacks on the Capitol in the United States of America, could not have been worse though: this is the month that marks the thirty first year of a genocidal exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from their homeland - a smear so dark on the face of India’s fake liberals that they can perhaps never remove it. Not that it matters – the animosity that they possess for the ‘uncultured’ and ‘barbarian’ natives of India perhaps overrides everything else that they witness.
Nor is the hype on secularism ever visible when it comes to a state like Meghalaya. For more than four decades now, Hindus of Meghalaya have been at the receiving end of the xenophobic Christian Khasi Students Union (KSU). As has only very recently been brought to light, it started in 1979 with the desecration of a Kali idol during Diwali in Shillong, followed by the ethnic cleansing of Bengalis. This too is a tale of forced migration like the Kashmiri Pandits, that still remains untold and unknown to most Indians, thanks to the curious silence of the bleeding-heart secularists of India. Perhaps a selective kind of xenophobia is a permissible crime in their world.
Communalism Doesn’t Need a Procession to Manifest
The politics of procession is an oft-repeated diatribe that becomes a convenient excuse to tarnish a certain community without hesitation. However, what often gets buried under the reams of such atrocious literature is the fact that communalism does not express itself via politics; it is about the intolerance towards simple things in the name of religious values of the few.
In January 2020, two communities engaged in a stone pelting in Qutubpur Kusani Village in Saharanpur District. As usual, the trigger was something anodyne - a music band was accompanying resident Dharampal Singh, who had retired from the local Inter-College. Muslims objected to a Hindu band procession playing music in front of their house, leading to an altercation that quickly escalated into violence between the two communities.
Communalism also shows itself up in the form of intolerance towards people wanting to work on their own parcels of land. In Uttar Pradesh’s Auraiya district the same month, an FIR was registered against eleven people of a certain community by the Uttar Pradesh Police for beating up an army jawan supervising construction work on his own plot. His crime? Locals had accused the jawan of being inebriated and raising the ‘incendiary’ Jai Shri Ram slogans. This led to a fracas, with a crowd of Muslims heckling and beating up the jawan.
Walking back in time slightly, one wonders what procession did the Kashmiri Pandits hold that caused them to face incidents of stone pelting? Wanting to perhaps get a second chance at life in transit camps in Baramulla, Haal and other places in Kashmir , they are now forced to feel caged and are unable to roam about freely.
Questions also remain as to how Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu could be allowed to witness ‘fatwas’ declaring Muslim-majority villages out of bound for people even from the district itself. What procession drove this radical decision?
The excuse that a community gets provoked to take certain steps is quite a baffling justification. When the case of Munawar Faruqui came up, the provocation resulted in a police case. Comparisons of the same to the beheadings in France looked like a cruel joke, especially given the fact that people lost lives for printing a cartoon. If provocation is so easy, it frankly raises the question on the sagacity of communities to exercise restraint.
Provocation is not just a one-way street in any case. The selective reading reeks of hypocrisy even more, when one sees the utter silence on attacks on temples in Andhra Pradesh. The DGP of Andhra Pradesh was on record to inform the media that in 2020, about 228 cases of attacks on temples were registered in Andhra Pradesh, compared to 305 cases in 2019, 267 in 2018, 318 in 2017, 332 in 2016 and 290 in 2015. One can, perhaps, wonder where the politics of procession plays a role in encouraging temple attacks.
The list could get long if one were to be honest, but honesty and secularism are like oil and water – an emulsion that is immiscible. The selective reading of the communal history of India is a problem that tries to cover up the complexity of India’s inter-community relations by painting one community as the villain. Honest introspection, however, continues to remain a distant dream when it comes to the self-appointed vanguards of India’s values. As their edifices crumble down challenged by the questions on their narrative, one can only pray that some lessons will be learnt eventually, so that the self-anointed secularists of India can speak honestly for once.