Feb 25, 2024
Feb 25, 2024
The beginning of sectarian unrest and communal frenzy leading to large scale conundrum and unrest in different parts of India in the recent times could be traced back to the nationwide protests by the Muslim community opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019. The interesting part of the aforesaid legislation was that it had nothing to do with the Indian Muslims in any way but the Popular Front of India (PFI), other allied organizations, Ulemas and Maulvis, etc. who together had sponsored large scale protests spending considerable money and material to convince a large section of the community that the legislation was actually against their survival in the country. The most unacceptable and unforgivable part of the prolonged unrest was the use of students in various universities and academic institutions in an orchestred disinformation campaign through the electronic and social media to create lawlessness and ruckus on the roads, anti-social elements to indulge in rioting, arson and violence, and women and even children of 7-8 years age in Shaheen Bagh, Delhi and other cities to sit on prolonged dharna at vantage point. The events of Shaheen Bagh are often quoted as new experiment and the current spate of systematic arson and violence during Hindu festivals appears to be a revised edition of the same experiment.
Rising Sectarian Conflicts & Violence
The prolonged Shaheen Bagh protests keeping hostage a significant part and passage of the national capital had received wide national and international coverage on the expected lines thanks to the nexus of a section of the Indian journalists and the dominant international electronic and press media with so called liberal or left-leaning credentials. Then while the top Indian political establishment was engaged in hosting then US President Donald Trump and his entourage on 24 and 25 February 2020, suddenly the communal riots broke in parts of the Northeast Delhi with a complete lawlessness and lackadaisical or no response from the law and order authorities for several hours. By the time, the Delhi police supplemented by the paramilitary forces geared up to take control, heavy damages in terms of human casualties as well as the loss of private and public properties worth billions had already occurred. From the sequence of events and violence pattern, it appeared that the riots were planned beforehand with twin objectives to coincide with the visit of the American President so as to embarrass the Central government internationally and garner maximum publicity to the ongoing anti-CAA agitation. Subsequent investigations only confirmed the apprehension that the riots were indeed planned and organized by the vested interests in the minority community in the areas of their hold and dominance, and communal frenzy later spread and escalated in more areas in retaliation.
Immediately following the National Capital riots, the Covid-19 pandemic started globally taking India too in its grip in March 2020 which suo moto led to the weakening the anti-CAA agitation. However, during the pandemic too, the members of theTabligi Jamaat (Saudi Arabia banned it in December 2021 calling it ‘a gate of terror’) and its followers played a nasty role in creating ruckus and spreading the virus countrywide by willfully defying the protocol and government instructions on the disease. During the prolonged Covid-19 wave(s) in the country, apart from numerous instances of open defiance of the Covid-19 protocol and misconduct with the doctors and health workers, even the misinformation was purportedly planted by the miscreants that the Muslims should not take vaccines which will render them infertile thus they will not be able to produce children. Then October 2021 was marred with a major controversy: Pakistan won an international cricket match against India after 29 years and victory of the former over the latter was celebrated by many Muslims with sweet distribution and slogan shouting in several parts of the country such as Kashmir, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The most disturbing incidents were reported from two medical institutions in Srinagar, Kashmir where the government is spending billions on thousands of Kashmiri youth as stipend, maintenance, fees and other allied charges for free medical and technical education.
In the beginning of January 2022, a new communal trouble started initially as a dispute about the school uniform in the Southern Indian state of Karnataka and soon it gripped almost entire nation as an issue of the constitutional right of the minority community (Muslims). On face, some Muslim girls wanted to wear hijab in the classroom which was refused by the college authorities asking them to follow the institution’s prescribed uniform policy. Soon the dispute spread over the other schools and colleges in the state with Muslim girl students, proactively backed by their elders and fundamentalists, insisting to wear hijab and boycotting classes without it. In retaliation, some Hindu students too started a counter-protest with the demand of wearing saffron scarves if hijab is allowed to Muslims. Large scales protests were made by the minority community in various parts of the country supporting hijab, even resorting to violence at places in which one Hindu student was murdered in the Shivamogga district of Karnataka, and many others were thrashed or stabbed at other places. A petition was filed on 31 January 2022 on behalf of the girl students from the Udupi PU College (Karnataka) in the Karnataka High Court; the court issued an interim order on 10 February restraining all students from wearing any form of religious attire; then the High Court gave its verdict on 15 March upholding ban on hijab which is, it held, not an essential religious practice in Islam; now the issue is pending with the Supreme Court.
Then in April 2022, widespread communal violence has occurred in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Delhi, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra during the shobha yatras (religious processions) of the Hindu festivals of Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti. The common feature of these ugly violent incidents on all fateful occasions has been the attack by the members of the minority community on processions when on route they passed through the areas dominated by their population. In the same context, it may be relevant to briefly mention two events in Tamil Nadu during the last three years having far reaching consequences. The Madras (Chennai) High Court had to handle two different litigation cases in 2019 and 2021 impinging upon the religious freedom in this secular country. In both cases, the local Muslim community had objected to Hindus celebrating festivals or conducting the chariot festival procession in local Hindu temples on the plea that Muslims were in majority in the area, hence conducting Hindu festivals would hurt their religious sentiments; accordingly, the court should issue a decree banning Hindu festivals in the area.
In the first case, the two judges’ bench of Madras High Court in November 2019 had passed order to restrain the arbitrary and illogical practice of the district administration and police officials in banning the temple festivals in Naranamangalam village, Alathur Taluk of Perambalur district on the plea that it would hurt religious sentiments of Muslims and create communal tension and conflict. In second case, the High Court dismissed the petition of the minority (Muslim) community in May 2021 in which the petitioners had vociferously objected to the traditional Hindu festivals including temple chariot procession in the village of Kalathur in Perambalur district on the ground the area was predominantly occupied by them. The judges held that India is a secular country and merely because one religious group is living in majority in a particular area, it cannot be a reason for not allowing other religious festivals or processions through that area. The bench also added that if this contention of petitioners is accepted then it will create a situation in which minority people cannot conduct any festival or procession in most of the areas in India.
The two events may appear as ordinary or non-descript incidents arising out of the local dispute between the two communities but they carry a far reaching conclusion or consequence that in parts of India after independence where Muslims have reached a majority, the people of other faiths, primarily Hindus being original inhabitants of the Indian sub-continent that constitute the majority populace, must forego the right of their religious freedom in terms of celebrating their festivals and public functions such as taking out a traditional “Rath Yatra” or procession in future. This carries a very frightful and dangerous concept with far reaching consequences if not curtailed by law. The intransigent community must learn to abide law and conduct with mutual consideration and tolerance for a peaceful co-existence. In fact, the current upsurge of the growing social tension and communal violence in the country is the ugly product of uncompromising ways where one community resorts to frequent attacks on others’ socio-religious culture and the other is constrained to retaliate in self-defence on such occasions. Many politicians, media and self-proclaimed seculars/liberals exploit this situation for own vested interests in this country, and the social media acts as fuel to the fire with its ever growing misinformation and fake content.
While the author intends to deal with some of the recent incidents with greater insight and details, the following is briefly what happened in different Indian states in about ten days during the Ram Navami and Hunuman Jayanti celebrations. During the Ram Navami celebrations, the communal conflict started with stone pelting during the procession in Khambhat and Himmat Nagar towns of Gujarat. This was followed by group clashes with many injured, setting of shops ablaze and killing of a person before the police took control using tear gas and light force to disperse the warring groups. Large scale violence was reported from Khargone in Madhya Pradesh during the Ram Navami festival wherein many houses and vehicle mostly belonging to the majority community were burnt. Later the administration demolished unauthorized houses of some accused persons involved in the violent incidents. Incidents of communal violence on Ram Navami was also reported from the state of Jharkhand and at least two cities, namely Bokaro and Lohardaga, were more affected where the rioters set several vehicles on fire, many people were injured in ambush and stone pelting, and one man later succumbed to injuries.
West Bengal as such has gained notoriety in lawlessness and communal polarization over the years, a lot of which is also due to the current political atmosphere there. Two violent incidents in Muslim dominated areas including stone pelting, targeted attacks, arson and vandalism occurred on Ram Navami occasion in the Shibpur area of Howrah and Bankura town wherein many people including police personnel were injured. However, the state chief minister Mamta Banergee denied of any untoward incident in her state. The communal atmosphere in Karnataka is already vitiated on account of the controversies and conflicts on hijab, azaan and halal meat. A Sri Ram Shobha Yatra came under attack in Mulbagal of Kolar district, wherein stones were pelted on the idol of Sri Ram, some people received injuries and vehicles were set ablaze. The old Hubli police station and students in the Central University, Gulberga were also attacked. In Andhra Pradesh, a violent incident was reported from Kurnool district where the Hanuman Jayanti procession was attacked with at least fifteen people receiving injuries.
A major incident of communal violence occurred in Karauli, Rajasthan on 2nd April 2022, when a Hindu religious procession on the occasion of 'Nav Samvatsar' i.e. the first day of Hindu New Year was attacked in the Muslim dominated neighbourhood. In the ensuing arson and violence, many houses and shops of Hindu families were burnt, vehicles damaged and set ablaze, and several dozen people were injured. On the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti, the Jahangirpuri area in Delhi was the witness of unprecedented violence including a police sub-inspector sustaining bullet injury from the gun of a rioter. Earlier on the occasion of Ram Navami, the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus was a witness of group clash over the choice of food when some Muslims and left-leaning students deliberately organized an Iftar party where the other group of students was already engaged in Ram Navami celebrations. Similar clashes were also reported from the states of Uttarakhand, Maharashtra (Mumbai and Amravati) and Goa on the occasions of Ram Navami and/or Hanuman Jayanti with the reports of arson, violence and many people receiving injuries.
Recent Communal Conflicts of Grave Implications
Of the dozens of incidents of attack on the Hindu festival/religious processions followed by arson and violence in about a fortnight in April 2022, three incidents of serious nature in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi involving grave and far reaching future implications on relationship of the communities and threat to the secular fabric of nation are briefly dealt with in the following paragraphs. Adding insult to injury, depending upon which political party is in power in these states, the politicians and media too have dealt with these incidents keeping own long term vested interests in view ignoring the larger public interest.
1. Karauli Violence on Nav Samvatsar
According to the FIR registered in the case, the communal violence in the Karauli city was triggered by a planned attack on a religious rally and around 42 people were injured with several shops and residential houses set on fire on 2nd April 2022 during the arson and violence. The Station House Officer (SHO) Kotwali has cautiously recorded that a rally was being conducted by members of Hindu organizations on the occasion of ‘Nav Samvatsar”, the first day of Hindu New Year and violence started when the rally was pelted with stones while passing through Muslim-dominated neighbourhood. The state of Rajasthan is ruled by the Congress government, which is often charged with the minority appeasement on many in the state, which constitute a traditional vote bank for the ruling party. Although a formal inquiry has been ordered by the state government yet notwithstanding what the SHO has reported, it is not surprising that the DGP (police chief) of the state has reportedly stated while talking to media that the way procession was taken was dubious, songs played were objectionable and that’s why stone pelting took place.
However, according to eye-witnesses, the Hindu organizations had taken out the “shobha yatra” after taking due permission from the administration and when the procession reached near Harwara Bazar, predominantly a Muslim locality, they found that most of the shops owned by the members of the minority community were closed and people were standing in their balconies and rooftops. Participants were initially under impression that the people were standing there to watch the procession passing through the area. However, within minutes a heavy barrage of stones started falling on the procession from the balconies and rooftops and the people on foot and bikes started running in a frenzy to save their lives. Soon a baton and sword flashing mob charged at the procession from another lane. The mob started attacking on the local Hindu residents, looting theirs shops and putting their shops, vehicles and houses on fire while properties of the Muslims were left untouched. Thus a large crowd of miscreants ran amok indulging in arson, loot, vandalism and destroying the public property.
The arson and violence was controlled after heavy deployment of police and imposition of curfew in the area. Administrative inquiry has been ordered by the state government and the police is stated to have identified the main conspirator as an independent Councillor Matloob Ahmed who is said to be absconding after the incident. Simultaneously, some Hindu leaders who organized the procession have also been booked by the police. According to investigation conducted by some news channels, the Hindu residents who were physically attacked and/or their shop/house damaged, are still apprehensive about their lives and property. It is more likely that many of them will dispose of their property and move out to more secure locations in the city. Such an exodus of so threatened Hindu families would indeed be a blot on the government which cannot guarantee security and safety to the common man. This author has only one question to the Rajasthan DGP and others who visualize fault with the people (Hindus) in procession whether the tons of stones thrown on the procession would have been possible without pre-planning and accumulation?
2. Khargone Violence on Ram Navami
Khargone is a communally sensitive district in Madhya Pradesh with over 37% Muslim population according to the last census data. On 10 April, a Ram Navami procession had to be abandoned midway in the Talab Chowk area of the city after it came under a heavy barrage of stones from the members of the minority community. During the orgy of stone-pelting, arson and violence, at least two dozen people were injured including six police personnel, and many vehicles and houses were set on fire. The city SP Siddhartha Chaudhary received a gun shot on his left leg while he was chasing a miscreant wielding a sword earlier used by him to attack devotees in the procession. While police was trying to control this mayhem, another group of miscreants barged the narrow lane in the area and started setting the vehicles and houses on fire. It was with great difficulty and sustaining several injuries that the police could control the arson and violence by resorting to lathi-charge and tear gas shelling in the area besides rescuing many people trapped in the narrow lane in the violence hit area.
When the police resorted to application of force to control arson and violence in Talab Chowk, the miscreants moved the adjacent localities of Tavdi Mohalla, Sanjay Nagar, Gaushala Marg, Anand Nagar, Bhausar Mohalla and Khaskhaswadi through narrow lanes creating mayhem and ruckus there. Government in Madhya Pradesh, however, has taken a swift and decisive action to restore normalcy in the riot torn areas of Khargone, identify rioters and miscreants for the necessary administrative and legal action to punish them and even some illegal constructions of the identified rioters have been demolished using bulldozers. A group of Muslim clerics have submitted a memorandum to the state DGP and Home Minister raising objections over the demolitions stating that the entire family and children cannot be punished for the unlawful act of one person. According to them, the government is taking one-sided action in putting their community members in jail and demolishing their shops and houses. The Jama Masjid officials in the Talab Chowk area maintain that the stone-pelting occurred from both sides and the flare-up was provoked by the Hindus; therefore, such processions or celebrations should not be allowed in the area to maintain communal harmony.
Recent violence in the communally sensitive Kharagone district has raised the real risk of Hindu exodus from the Muslim-dominated areas, although the district administration has denied such reports dismissing it as the handiwork of the outsiders. After the recent arson and violence in which many houses of Hindu families were burnt, several Hindu families in the Sanjay Nagar, one of the worst affected areas, have displayed ‘Ye Makaan Bikau Hai (This house is for sale)’ outside their houses. As disclosed by some victims to the Republic TV, such rioting and arson has been common in the area whenever any Hindu festival is near. They do not want Hindus to celebrate festivals or participate in religious processions; consequently, whenever Hindus have a festival, they try to disrupt it in various ways. At least fifteen families have already left and situations are being repeatedly created for others to flee. One of the victims told that every time they rebuild their lives after losing property in communal violence, yet another riot takes place and they end up becoming the first target; this time again the rioters from the adjoining areas stormed into his house and tried to set it ablaze. Another lady said that this was the third time that her house was attacked and burnt in the last few years.
3. Jahangirpuri Violence on Hanuman Jayanti
After the massive communal riots in the North Delhi during February 2020, the national capital experienced yet another ugly incident of communal violence and arson in Jahangirpuri area on Hunuman Jayanti on 16 April but the alert administration and Delhi police was able to effectively control and keep it localized in one locality. According to the FIR registered, the Hanuman Jayanti procession was peacefully moving but when the procession approached the Jama Masjid in the C Block of Jahangirpuri, a man named Ansar with his companions approached it and had an argument with the participants. This argument quickly developed into stone-pelting leading to a stampede in the procession. According to the police, they attempted to take control of the situation, but a specific segment of the mob (Muslims) disregarded the orders, intensified the sloganeering and set ablaze vehicles besides the pelting of stones and glass bottles at the procession. The mob also fired gunshots in which one sub inspector was injured receiving a shot in his hand.
As it occurs in these times, many people indulge in taking pictures and videos with their smart phones even if it is an ugly or tragic event, which has both negative and positive connotations. Several videos viral on the social media suggest that the communal mayhem was indeed started at the Block B and C of Jahangirpuri mostly inhabited by the worker class. People of the minority community could be seen in videos pelting stones and brandishing swords or huge knives on the street besides simultaneously hurling dirty abuses. Videos have also come up with the frenzied mob raising slogans of ‘Allah Hu Akbar’ while waving swords in hands, of which one particular video clearly appears from the C Block area, from where a mosque is located just about fifty metres, the main spot from where the violence is said to have erupted. In the ensuing violence, several vehicles were torched; eight policemen and few civilians are stated to have received injuries, with one sub-inspector also receiving a bullet injury. Additional police contingents were swiftly deployed in Jahangirpuri and other sensitive areas of Delhi to salvage the deteriorating situation. On his part, true to his character, the Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal was prompt to put complete onus and responsibility for maintain peace to the Centre.
The initial investigation has revealed that the prime accused Ansar (now arrested) along with his supporters stopped the procession, got into an argument with people that soon turned into violence. While both sides blamed each other, some others believe that this was the handiwork of the outsiders. Over the years, Jahangirpuri has emerged as a hub of illegal Rohingya and Bangladeshi Muslims immigrants; C and B Blocks and H2 Jhuggis are stated to have significant population of such immigrants and other Muslims in the area and the epicentre of trouble was between the Mangal Bazaar and Kushal Cinema of C Block in the locality. The Jahangirpuri violence indeed appears to have been pre-planned; the CCTV footage obtained by the Delhi police also show a group of 4-5 people engaged in collecting sticks in the neighbourhood, one scrap dealer apprehended by the police is stated to have admitted supplying the bottles used for pelting during the attack on the procession. Moreover, the use of tons of stones in huge number on the procession too cannot be just a coincidence.
In a significant development in the violence-torn Jahangirpuri area, a demolition drive was jointly undertaken by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and police on 20 April to remove illegal encroachment. Within minutes of the drive started, the Supreme Court was moved by the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, an important Muslim organization known for many odd reasons too, with two petitions engaging the top lawyers like Dushyant Dave and Kapil Sibal, one petition relating to such demolitions across the country and the other specifically against the Jahangirpuri anti-encroachment drive pleading that such demolitions violate fundamental human rights. A bench headed by the current Chief Justice himself immediately granted stay against the encroachment drive and listed the next hearing of the case after two weeks. One CPM leader personally confronted the anti-encroachment team with the court order and the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called it as “the state-sponsored targeting of minorities and poor”. Incidentally, the crucial case about the deportation of illegal Rohingya immigrants is pending in the Supreme Court of India since 2017 without hearing and the number of such immigrants is on constant increase. But the zeal and initiative taken by the Minority organization hand-in-gloves with the communist party only exposes the nature of most illegal structures across the country.
Current Spate of Violence: An Experiment or Coincidence?
India has a long history of communal violence in the country ever since the Islamic invaders started settling and establishing their rule in various parts of the country towards the beginning of the last millennium; many of the communal riots have been spontaneous flare ups while some of them were indeed premeditated and meticulously planned. In the last two decades, there have been stray and isolated conflicts between the two communities on Hindu festivals but such wide spread and large scale violence has been reported for the first time. Besides, the recent communal flare ups in different Indian states have one common and remarkable feature i.e. the surprise element in the eruption of violence and decisive disruption of the celebration or procession owing to some Hindu festivals in the localities predominantly inhabited by the said minority population or where they are considerably in large numbers. The obvious corollary or the message seems to be loud and clear that the Hindu festivals and religious activities are not acceptable to the minority community; therefore, they will not allow it in the areas of their dominance and use coercive measures if the majority community do not submit to their demand.
If we have a honest look at the history of land identity of which has changed from Bharatvarsha to Hindustan to India during the last one millennium and three almost hardcore Islamic nations, namely Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, have been carved out from it during the same period. After the country was last divided in 1947 creating Pakistan on the basis of religious ideology propounded by Sir Sayyad Ahmad Khan in 1887 (The Congress and Islamists erroneously or deliberately blame VD Savarkar) that the Muslims and Hindus are two distinct nations which cannot peacefully coexist together, no rationale exists for the continued appeasement and special treatment to the former community in free India. But the ruling Indian National Congress led by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru started this in the name of secularism and even the last prime minister of his legacy, Mr Manmohan Singh, is on record to have stated in his address to the National Development Council on 9 December 2006 that the minorities, particularly Muslims, must have first claim on the national resources to share the fruits of development. This erroneous vision has been so much distorted over a period that the term “secular” is applied to those who give preferential treatment to Muslims and Christians while others who favour equal treatment and opportunities to all communities including the Hindu majority are portrayed as communal.
In the foregoing paragraphs, a reference has been made to two villages in the state of Tamil Nadu where the minority community had sought a decree of the High Court in the recent past to ban Hindu festivals and religious processions because the Muslims are now in majority in these villages. However, while denying this unreasonable and illegal demand, the court had rightly observed that if the majority community in India too raises similar demand and the courts allow this, a situation will be created in which minority communities wouldn’t be able conduct any festival or procession in most parts of India. Obviously, in a secular and democratic country, or for that matter in any other political set up, it will be grossly unfair to impose restrictions on people to carry out unilateral activities based on religion. But then this is what Islamists are resorting to; where the law does not permit, they try to do the same through coercive measures and the current spate of violence only further vindicates their mood and resolve. It is also true that the majority Muslims would prefer to live in peace and harmony but the fundamentalists and radical elements in the community have their way mainly because the educated and enlightened people in the community do not come forward to guide and educate people while the common men are easily swayed by religious sentiments.
Any reform is possible only if the problem is accepted at the first place by the community. History of various civilizations clearly establishes that a sword can kill and conquer people and empires but it cannot show people the path of the truth and divine. Ancient Hindu scriptures talk about one God for the entire humanity and that the paths (religions) may be different but the destination (God) is same for all human beings. Now if a certain God in some religion is said to discriminate or inculcate fear among people, it is a paramount duty and responsibility of the virtuous and scholarly men in the community to learn the truth and educate others. Should the worthy scholars and virtuous men in the community not examine why only a certain community is involved against all others in various parts of the world? Should they not examine and address why the majority terrorist organizations are linked to only one community? Should they not apply to find out why they are fighting among themselves in various parts of the world where no other community is in reckoning? Some wise people in the community have indeed tried this in the past but the outcome has not been encouraging as they had to either run away from the land for own safety or have been discredited by the community.
To illustrate the above submission, the following few examples are quoted from the recent past. Last year, the former chairman of Shia Waqf Board in Uttar Pradesh, Syed Wasim Rizvi had filed a petition in Supreme Court of India seeking a review of certain verses (total 26) from the Holy Quran which, according to him, preach violence against non-believers. According to his submission, these verses were not part of the original Quran but were inserted at a later stage. In obvious reluctance to examine merit of the case, the apex court dismissed the petition at the admission stage itself; a fatwa was issued against him with a prize money on his head by a Bareilly based religious outfit and now Rizvi has undergone conversion to Hinduism. This is, however, not solitary case of raising issues with the hadith or some verses of the holy book. In the past, such references in some European countries too have led to a strong and violent backlash from the Muslim community. The latest episode relates to Sweden where an unsolicited reference to the Holy Quran by a right-wing politician wreaked havoc during the Easter holidays in as much as violent riots broke out in at least five major cities of the European nation. France is often quoted for exemplary practices of democratic values and secularism but recently they had to pass laws to regulate certain religious practices of the community.
From the recent large scale and widespread incidents of arson and violence during the Hindu festivals in the Muslim-dominated localities cannot be just a coincidence but a meticulously planned experiment by the fundamentalists with communal mindset. In the modern times with the advent of technology, any news or message reaches to the targeted audience on almost real time basis and even terrorists and criminals are making full use of it. It is pretty clear from the verdicts in Tamil Nadu during the last 3 years that no Indian court will allow a ban on the festivals and religious activities of any community on the plea that certain community has achieved in majority in certain area. From the current mayhem and conundrum, it appears that communalists have succeeded in their motives to the extent that all the targeted processions were successfully disrupted with considerable harm inflicted to the victims which are mostly from the majority community. Such incidents give a feeling as if hundreds of mini nations have been created in India after independence where people of other communities have no right of passage or place. But then the unpalatable saga does not end here because the likely implications are that the two communities will be further polarized and, in future, either the majority community will stop their celebrations in the minority-dominated areas or they too will go prepared to deal with such contingencies.
On their part, the central and state governments ignore or even passively allow many unlawful activities including public encroachments for years owing to their own vested interests of expanding electoral base through appeasement or due to sheer inefficiency and then they suddenly wake up when a serious untoward incident takes place as it happened now in Jahangirpuri, Delhi. Then in a secular and democratic country like India where political parties are divided according to their vested interests rather than any differences over their vision of development and public welfare, people always look at the judiciary with hope for justice and course correction. When the judiciary itself adopts a partisan attitude over resolving the issues faced by the people, it disappoints masses compelling them to take law in own hands. Many cases could be quoted in India where even the apex judiciary has acted with (undue) haste for the trivial issues while sitting over cases of major importance for the years or even decades. Even the recent stay granted against the removal of encroachments in an area in Delhi while the deportation case of the same people left pending since 2017 falls in the same category.
On many occasions, violent clashes between the Shia and Sunni sects of Muslims have taken place in the past during festivals, particularly on Ramadan when Shias take out procession with Tazias but Hindu-Muslim conflict are rare on such occasions. On the contrary, many Hindus voluntarily join and share joy and happiness with Muslim brethren on their festivals. In fact, many political parties and individual Hindu public figures host their own Iftar parties during the month long Roza (fasting) and Eid al-Fitr celebrations. But similar gesture and response is lacking from the minority community may be barring rare exceptions. The author recalls from own memory some twenty years ago while travelling by car from the Jaunpur city to a village in the same district of Uttar Pradesh on the occasion of Ramadan festival. Jaunpur has a considerable minority population and with Tazia processions out on roads overwhelming all major trunk-routes, the distance of less than 40 km was completed in over three hours which normally should take less than an hour. On the contrary, he has observed where the people in majority community take out procession on road on any religious or social occasions, they make sure that at least a narrow passage is allowed for the commuters too. Only a mutual understanding, consideration and care for each other can restore confidence, harmony and peace among people and communities.
More by : Dr. Jaipal Singh