Feb 28, 2024
Feb 28, 2024
After watching Nupur Sharma’s effigy hanging on wires above a road in Karnataka while the life below goes on as usual, it’s difficult to believe that we are living in a civilized world of 21st century. The recent worldwide outrage in the Islamic countries with the tacit support of India's own opposition politicians and secularists over a few reality bites by this lady spokesperson of the ruling party during a live television debate albeit in an incensed tone appears to be beyond every logic and rationale, beating and shaming human sensibilities, ethics and morality. Islamists in India have sought her blood with open threats of rape, thrashing and murder while the opposition politicians and so-called secularist-liberals want her immediate arrest and prosecution. For most Islamic countries, democracy and secularism may be just two fashionable jargon in their own orthodox and Sharia-based order with many of them even denying the people of other faiths any religious freedom and right of worship in open and public places but they are merrily giving sermons to India on human rights, religious freedom and tolerance. As if this is not enough, so some Islamic countries have officially sought public apology from the Indian government over the utterances by the lady spokesperson during the debate while others have gone to the extent of giving a call for boycotting the Indian goods.
Prophet Controversy: Background and Sequence of Events
Communal hatred and divide between the two largest communities in India has a long history and so deep-rooted in psyche of people that even a genuine historian would find it difficult to pin-point the precise period, event and cause. Generally, there is a consensus that the British colonizers fully exploited this position to their benefit, endeavoured to further widen the rift and divided the country on the religious ground while leaving it, thanks to some selfish and greedy Indian leaders in the Indian National Congress and Muslim League. Following independence, the party that inherited power from the British not only continued their erstwhile legacy of appeasement of the minority community at the cost of the major community in socioeconomic and religious matters but also screwed the Indian history in glorifying invaders and perpetrators in the sub-continent suppressing the accounts of many real heroes, probably on the logic to perpetuate peace, cooperation and brotherhood. Consequences of this flawed legacy are already visible and voices are emerging with experts’ opinion that more divisions of the country may become imminent after some time if the trend continues.
The Islamic invaders during the last millennium were inter alia known for notoriously destroying and damaging thousands of Hindu, Buddha and Jain temples, and religious and educational institutions including libraries with a view to destroy the Sanatana culture of the Indian sub-continent. The worst part of this cruel and horrendous act was that they either built mosques or other Islamic structures on the same site making use of same material or left such places partially damaged after desecrating and defiling them. I recall from my in-service tenure as head of the organization of a government department at Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, where famous Chausath Yogini Temple of 10th century vintage is located at Bhedaghat on a hilltop above the River Narmada. A visitor would not find a single Yogini statue there which was not desecrated and defiled by the Mughal invaders. They probably left these places of religious and cultural importance partially damaged to constantly remind Hindus of the Islamic glory and power. Though in the previous centuries and post-independence period, Hindus overlooked these excesses of past but they could never reconcile with three holy sites, namely Ram Janmbhumi in Ayodhya, Krishna Janmbhumi in Mathura and Kashi-Vishwanath Temple complex in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
After the centuries of conflict, and protracted litigation since 1949, the Supreme Court finally restored the Ram Janmbhumi site to Hindus in a verdict simultaneously giving an alternative piece of land to Muslims in the same district at a vantage location. However, the remaining two disputes have remained unresolved so far and the Gyanvapi complex (currently Mosque) at Varanasi is the immediate cause of the current controversy and dispute. The Congress government at centre had used their majority in Parliament to enact legislation in 1991 with a motive to bury all such claims and potential disputes granting exception only to the Ram Janmbhumi dispute but it is amply clear from the developments that the matters of faith cannot be settled merely through a law that consciously or inadvertently favours one community. The communal dispute over the Kashi-Vishwanath Temple - Gyanvapi Mosque is almost as old as the life of the aforesaid Mosque, but the current controversy started in May 2022 when admitting the petition of some Hindu women devotees, the district civil court ordered a survey of the alleged Mosque complex to establish its religious nature among the conflicting claims and counter-claims.
Another petition was filed by the Muslim side in the Supreme Court to stall survey of the Gyanvapi complex citing 1991 legislation, on which a 3-judges bench passed an interim order on 20 May 2022 after hearing both sides. Accordingly, the petition of Muslims has been transferred to the District Judge Varanasi to determine its applicability in eight weeks, administration is to provide protection of area where reportedly Shivalinga has been found during survey, and Muslims would continue namaz in the Mosque with alternate wazoo arrangement till further order. As the matter is now in the court, both communities should have avoided public expression of views and disagreements but none of them has exercised restraint. On the other hand, the Indian private news channels, commensurate with their reputation worldwide, have constantly provided forum and fodder for the endless and inconclusive debates on the controversial subject. What is even more intriguing and concerning fact is that the judges dealing with the case are constantly getting threats to their life and family; hence the government is constrained to provide them extra security.
In the instant case, one private television channel had organized a live debate on 26 May 2022 wherein among others guests, the ruling Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) politician and spokesperson Nupur Sharma was also invited. The relevant clip shows one minority community guest vehemently disputing and denying Shivalinga reported at the site and addresses it as a fountain mockingly. The lady spokesperson of BJP lodges her protests and reminds him that even Supreme Court has referred to it as Shivalinga in their order. The Muslims guest sarcastically tells her to keep her aastha (faith) with her while sticking to his mocking and laughing gestures. At this juncture, the lady anchor cautions him that if he cannot call it Shivalinga then he should better avoid using the term fountain as well. In the ensuing debate another Muslim guest too mocks and laughs quoting a couplet in sarcasm. The lady once again asks them not to demean Hindu religion and then taking offense from the constant mockery and sarcasm, she gets provoked and quotes three things from Hadiths and Holy Quran in a surcharged tone (in about 22 seconds), namely the flying horse, earth is flat and that Prophet Muhammad made nikah (marriage) with Aisha at the age of 6 and consumed marriage at 9 years of age; and then added if she should also start making fun of this (like what they were doing to her religion).
Although Nupur Sharma had spoken what is already mentioned in Islamic scriptures such as the Holy Quran and/or Hadiths and Tafsirs but words about the alleged blasphemy by her were spread by few interested individuals causing anger and outrage against her within the minority community during the next few days. What she spoke in the spur of moments have also been cited by some Islamic scholars, including the hate-preacher Zakir Naik in the past. In fact, any mention of Prophet Muhammad which Muslims treat disrespectful to the Prophet becomes a rallying point for protest worldwide by the followers of Islam. In the next few days, several abusive comments were made on social media and in public against Nupur Sharma, including open threats for her rape, thrashing and murder. The opposition parties played their politics hitherto fore and many protesters of the minority community including an Islamic organization Anjuman Barkaat-e-Raza in Maharashtra demanded her immediate arrest and prosecution. Large scale riots were triggered in Kanpur on 3rd June when both the President and Prime Minister were on a visit in the city. Now again, a large scale demonstrations, including arson and violence against police and common man, have been simultaneously held by the Indian Muslim in fourteen Indian states in over ninety instances following the Friday namaz on 10 June demanding arrest and hanging of the BJP leader and spokesperson.
Islamic World: Protests and Damage Control
When the issue further escalated, a storm was created in the Islamic world with many countries resorting to condemnation and protests demanding action and apology from the Indian government. Consequently, the BJP suspended Nupur Sharma from the primary membership of the party and expelled yet another Delhi leader for alleged objectionable tweet in a damage-control exercise. The official position was clarified to the countries such as Qatar and Kuwait that the comments made during the television debate did not represent the stand of the Government of India. Following her suspension, Nupur Sharma too unconditionally withdrew her remarks earlier made in response to a constant insult and disrespect shown by minority guests towards god Shiva. Notwithstanding these developments, her stand during the debate has received wide support from a large section of Indians including some Muslim intellectuals and a Dutch parliamentarian. For instance, Karachi (Pakistan) born Mohammad Arif Aajakia, an avid human rights activist, has fully endorsed Ms Sharma saying that she spoke the truth. He added if Muslims have objections to her statement, then they need to amend the relevant Hadiths. Another Pakistani-Canadian author and journalist, Tarek Fateh stated that Ms Sharma has only repeated what is already written in Islamic texts and the whole episode is now used as propaganda against India. The Rajya Sabha Parliament member Mahesh Jethmalani said that it was an insensitive statement made under provocation.
In essence, what BJP spokesperson said already exists in the Holy Quran, Hadiths, Tafsirs and other Islamic literature. For instance, the reference of Al-buraq, a white flying animal, smaller than a mule and bigger than a donkey is found as mount of the Prophet in Sahih Bukhari (Book 54, Hadith 429 & Book 58, Hadith 227) as also in Sahih Muslim (Book 001, Hadiths 309, 314). Quran 88:20 – suhitat indeed talks about the flat earth. In the tafsir Al-Jalalayn, the word sutihat is used to explain that the Earth is flat. Similarly, Sahih al-Bukhari 5134 says that the Prophet’s nikah (marriage) with Hajrat Aisha was held at the age of six years and the marriage was consumed at the age of nine years. Islamic scholar and hate preacher Zakir Naik’s video with the same statement is also available in public domain. A careful examination of relevant debate (video clip) reveals that the lady spokesperson referred to the aforesaid facts under constant provocation from two minority guests mocking the Hindu deity (Shiva) with sarcasm and laugh (even the anchor had objected to it), and then she said…kya main iska majaak banana shuru kar doon; aap udte ghore par bathiye aur furr ho jayiye! (Should I start making fun of it? …You better sit on the flying horse and fly away.)
Actually, Nupur Sharma is clearly seen in the clip warning the minority guest to stop insulting the Hindu religion and its Gods. Apparently in about 22 seconds of outburst (if we call it so) then, neither detractors nor sympathizers of the lady spokesperson have bothered to carefully learn the exact nuance and intent of her utterances which fell short of really mocking the Prophet but indeed ridiculing the guests who mocked and laughed at her religion, which most participants merrily do in such live debates. Mohammad Zubair of AltNews, a dubious fact checker website, did his job by presenting a cleverly trimmed video (avoiding the part how minority guests mocked Hindu deity and religion) and tweet making allegation that the prime time debates in India have become a platform to encourage hate mongers to speak ill about other religions. In a rolling ball effect from Mohammad Zubair to the Washington Post columnist Rana Ayyub to international media, the issue became an Ummah against India in defaming and disgracing it including a threat for terror attacks from the dreaded terrorist organization like Al Queda at the places like Delhi, Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.
After Mohammad Jubair’s clever trick and Nupur Sharma’s rejoinder to it, the opposition parties and left-leaning activists started targeting her, which got further escalated after the entry of vicious BJP and Modi hater Rana Ayyub and her brother to further fan the online outrage. In a tweet, Rana wrote on 28 May, “As somebody who grew up witnessing two of the worst anti-muslim pogroms in India, I think like a journalist, and as a Muslim, I have NEVER witnessed this level of brazen, televised hate…” Citing the tweet of her sister, brother Arif Ayyub wrote same day tagging Saudi oil company Aramco, UAE President Mohamed Bin Zayed, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), “India runs on Oil from middle-east, a region of Islamic nations. If these nations were to stop their supplies for a month, Indians, of which a vast majority are such Muslim-hating Hindus, would suffer greatly.” Arif and other Islamists also urged the Gulf countries to boycott Indian products and restrict oil supplies to India in order to make Hindus in India suffer.
Now the question still remains: How the Arab nations were roped into this controversy? Who was behind the social media campaign to run hashtags and publish tens of thousands tweets targeting Nupur Sharma, and in a way compelling the Government of India and ruling party to act? After all, they are the same Gulf countries who remained quiet treating it India’s internal matter, rather many of them supported India, when India abolished Article 370 on Kashmir in 2019 and large scale agitation by the Indian Muslims took place against the Citizens Amendment Act (CAA) in 2020. “The Hawk Eye”, a social media website known for conducting independent investigative journalism, has revealed that a malicious trend of twitter users was launched in the Arab world attacking Hindus residing in the Middle East with outrage over the alleged blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad. The primary source of origin was the initial tweet from an Egypt based organization called “International Organization for the Support of the Prophet of Islam” (IOSPI) on 3 June 2022, two days prior to the spokesperson’s suspension. First two days, it didn’t catch much attention but it phenomenally pick up on 5 June when notable Arab personalities with verified Twitter accounts and news organizations also started tweeting about it. While the majority of such tweets were in Arabic, the trend in Indian languages appears to have been escalated by the action of Mohammad Zubair, Ayyubs and Pakistan based twitter handles as later exposed by the “Times Now”.
Backlash from the Islamic countries has been rather unprecedented in this case. While the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) representing 57 member countries officially registered strong protest, at least twenty Islamic countries and organizations have individually too registered their resentment, condemnation and protest with India so far. These countries and organizations are Qatar, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordan, Maldives, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Al-Azhar al-Sharif, Turkey, Malaysia, Gulf Cooperation Council, Grand Mufti of Egypt, and so on. In a small piece like this, it may not be feasible to account for the contents of all such protests and Indian government’s response thereto. Accordingly, for the illustration sake, only a few such reactions and statements from the Islamic countries are dealt with in the following paragraphs.
Qatar was first to register their protest for the alleged blasphemous remarks against Prophet Muhammad. Their Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Indian ambassador, handed over an Official Note demanding a public apology from the Indian government over the BJP leader’s comments on Prophet Muhammad. The Note inter alia indicated that the blasphemous remarks of the ruling party leader constituted a grave danger to the protection of human rights and might lead to further prejudice and marginalization, which will create a cycle of hate and violence. In response thereto, the Indian embassy in Qatar issued a statement on 5 June, saying the “offensive tweets” by individuals in India “do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the government of India”, adding “these are the views of fringe elements.”
The Bahrain Foreign Ministry stated that there was a need on the part of the Indian government to denounce any reprehensible insults against the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, as a provocation to Muslims’ feelings and incitement to religious hatred. Even Taliban Afghanistan issued statement that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan strongly condemned the use of derogatory words against the Prophet of Islam by an official of the ruling party in India and that the Indian government should not allow such fanatics to insult the holy religion of Islam to provoke the feelings of Muslims. The other Islamic countries, including OIC, too have condemned the BJP leader’s statement somewhat on similar lines asking the Indian government for punitive action and damage control. Some of them called the Indian ambassador to register protest while others issued strongly worded statements condemning the BJP spokesperson. When the trend started, some hashtags in Gulf countries had even given a call for the boycott of the Indian products, following which there are reports that some super-stores in Qatar and Kuwait have indeed temporarily removed Indian products from their shelves.
While India has individually responded to some Arab countries on somewhat similar lines to that of Qatar but it took strong exception to the statement by the General Secretariat of OIC with the following rebuttal, which diplomatically speaks it all. Referring to the alleged denigration of Prophet Muhammad by an official of India’s ruling party, the 57 members OIC communiqué had condemned it and raised concerns about the systematic harassment of Muslims in India. They also urged the UN to take necessary measures to protect the rights of Muslims in India.
“Government of India categorically rejects OIC Secretariat’s unwarranted and narrow-minded comments. The Government of India accords the highest respect to all religions…”
“It is regrettable that OIC Secretariat has yet again chosen to make motivated, misleading and mischievous comments. This only exposes its divisive agenda being pursued at the behest of vested interests. We would urge the OIC Secretariat to stop pursuing its communal approach and show due respect to all faiths and religions.”
The storm created by tenacity and unified approach of the Arab states and other Islamic countries in condemning and seeking action or apology from the Government of India is indeed very remarkable yet quite paradoxical. Qatar is a small country with an area of just about 11,571 square km with 2.6 million people ruled as a hereditary monarchy, where the Emir controls nearly all executive, legislative and judicial powers. Sometime back, when Indian artist MF Hussain stirred controversy by creating nude paintings of Hindu deities and nude portrayal of Bharat Mata, and a FIR was lodged against him for his offense, Qatar was so prompt to grant him protection and Qatari citizenship in 2010. Bahrain is yet another Islamic country and constitutional monarchy with an area merely of about 765 square km with 1.7 million people. The monarch enjoys vast executive and judicial powers with no religion permissible other than Islam in the country. It was in news only two years back in 2020 when a burqa-clad woman publicly slammed Ganpati idols on floor in Bahrain Supermarket shattering them into pieces. It is so tragic and ironical that such countries like Qatar and Bahrain are now teaching India lessons on democracy, secularism and human rights.
This is not Qatar and Bahrain alone, most of Arab and other Islamic countries show similar or extreme form of intolerance towards other religions. In Afghanistan, Muslim women without burqa are chastised or even killed, and except Mosque no other religious structure or place can be raised. Pakistan had about 13 percent Hindus in 1951, of which only less than 2 percent are left which are in miserable condition. In Bangladesh, the population of Hindus has shrunken from about 23 percent to less than 8 percent during the same period. In Saudi Arabia, if a person seeks its nationality, his conversion to Islam is a pre-condition. Besides, non-Muslims and particularly Hindus are forbidden to carry out their religious functions in open. On the human rights and freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia, the nemesis of Jamal Ahmad Khashogi, a Saudi Arabian journalist, would still be alive in psyche and memory of many people how he entered at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018 but never returned alive; his only fault was that as journalist he was critical of Saudi rulers. In Iran, if someone adopts another religion, he could be awarded capital punishment. The gory details of the violations of human rights and freedom of speech in these countries is too lengthy and time consuming but all of them have joined chorus to teach India the value and virtue of secularism, freedom and human rights.
The description would remain incomplete if Al Qaeda is not mentioned here. As a terrorist organization, Al Qaeda needs no introduction and it has issued a letter threatening suicide attacks in Delhi, Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat in India to fight for the honour of the Prophet. In its letter dated 6 June 2022, they have threatened to kill those who affront their Prophet. According to their threat, the Modus operandi would be to bind explosives with their bodies and bodies of children to blow away the ranks of those who dare to dishonour Prophet. It is obvious that the contents of the Al Qaeda letter shall not be taken lightly as they may not leave any stone unturned to carry out their threat, in all likelihood with collaboration of other Pakistan-sponsored terrorist outfits already operating in Kashmir and others parts. A few extracts of Al Qaeda letter are reproduced as follows:
“…Allah the Great and High made Shariah He revealed to His Prophet as the Final Code and Law applicable in every corner of the universe wherever life is present… …A few days ago the propagators and flag bearers of Hindutva – a system and philosophy hostile to the religion and Shariah of Allah – insulted and slandered the purest of beings, the most honourable after God Himself, Muhammad Al Mustafa… …We warn every audacious and impudent foul mouth of the world, especially the Hindutva terrorists occupying India that we shall fight for the dignity of out (our) Prophet… …we shall kill those who affront our Prophet…”
Compulsions of Geo-Politics and World Economics
What Islamic countries and Indian Muslims have done so far and what they are demanding now is visible, loud and clear that neither need special knowledge nor intellect to understand it. For instance, they demanded action against Nupur Sharma and when she was suspended, they started asking for legal action and arrest. Few FIRs have indeed been lodged against her at the places like Mumbai and Delhi, now the demand is to put her in jail and award capital punishment. However, as it so happens, various experts and strategists of the geo-politics and world economics see different motive and purpose behind this entire storm. In a way, they may be right too because in the multi-polar world now socio-political and economic interests of individual as well as blocks of countries are connected and interdependent. This is the reason why on one hand the US fully endorses and supports Israel, which is considered as the enemy number one by the Arab world or, so to say, entire Islamic world while on the other hand it has tremendous clout and control on several Arab countries too such as Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, etc. Similarly, if India is seeking oil and natural gas from some of the Gulf countries, then many of them including Qatar are heavily dependent on India for their food security and other needs as well. Therefore, the possibility cannot be ruled out that there could be other reasons also behind this storm of protests and outrage.
Some experts and analysts have opined that the top leadership of the BJP and the Government of India should also make public statement on the issue to make their stand clear and assuage religious sentiments of the minority community. Also that if they fail to do this in time, they run the risk of damaging and compromising the country’s ties and good relations with the Arab world and Iran. Two important reasons cited in support are the country’s current trade and millions of Indian workers that live and work in the Gulf region besides sending considerable remittances back home. According to some statistics, the current trade of India with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE, was approximately $87 billion during 2020-21, and all this may be at stake now. Perhaps these experts forget that if India is importing oil and natural gas from these countries, then the same countries are also heavily dependent on it for food, particularly wheat, and many other essential commodities and liveries. If the Gulf countries have surplus dollars to outsource many jobs, India has plenty cheap technical and non-technical labourers, the majority of which are Indian Muslims only.
So the relationship of India and Arab world is essentially of interdependence and mutual needs with no reason or need for one dictating the other. Aforesaid dynamics could be further elaborated from the current Russia-Ukraine war. No need in going into the genesis of war and it is suffice to know that the current crisis in Europe is on account of the US led military alliance NATO’s ambitions of dominance and marginalization of Russia. Overlooking and ignoring past understandings and protocols, US led NATO continued to expand its forces right upto Russian border which is not acceptable to the Russian leadership. While resorting to stringent economic sanctions, the US and other Western European countries were under impression that the (alleged) punitive action would subdue Russia ensuring their triumph in war without firing a bullet. But the move has backfired with the sanctions adversely hitting both the parties, and Russia finding alternative means and partners for their economic survival and get going. India refused to tow the US dictated line in the UN and Security Council and when the European Union tried to pressurize India to stop Russian oil import, the Indian foreign minister simply showed them mirror that what India imports from Russia in a month, they (EU countries) were still doing it in an hour i.e. even after imposing sanctions on Russia.
The relationship of India with the Arab countries have constantly improved during the last eight years since Narendra Modi led NDA government came in power in 2014. The country is in constant negotiations with the GCC for a wider range of cooperation and deals, and has also signed a free trade agreement with the UAE. One good illustration of the growing bonhomie and good relations is Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Abu Dhabi in 2018, where a ground-breaking ceremony was organized for the construction of the first Hindu temple in the region. Due to the ongoing economic interests and friendly ties, both the India and Gulf States need each other for India to continue imports primarily for its energy needs and the Gulf States for their food security, other imports and Indian skilled and non-skilled workers. Hence the responsibility equally devolves on both sides to understand each other’s compulsions and merits to continue the ongoing business and cultural relations. It will be foolish on the part of the any side to allow small irritants like the one under consideration now to overshadow and spoil bilateral relations.
There are forces in the country and outside which are proactively working to oppose and sabotage almost every move and action of Prime Minister Modi, his government and like-minded organizations which raise the issue and work for the equal treatment and protection of rights of all communities in the country. It is already well established and not a subject requiring more proof or evidences that successive Indian governments after independence have worked for undue appeasement of certain minorities to garner their mandate to constantly stay in political power. In the past, the same vested interests had incited minorities on many occasions in an endeavour to create ruckus and anarchy, and now the same tool-kit is working again to spoil the India’s relationship with the Islamic countries. Traditionally, Saudi Arabia has led the Arab world for long but, undoubtedly, there are countries in the same block eager to look for opportunity to grab the Arab leadership, and undue haste and indiscretion of some of them in the Prophet issue indicates somewhat similar intent and motive. A tiny country like Qatar, both in size and economy, stands nowhere in comparison to China, and India under the new leadership has refused to concede even “an inch” to latter. This author feels the visionary analysts and experts, who try to put pressure on India with their wonderful analysis, must also pitch in these inputs.
If the Islamic countries were really sincere about the religion, they should have appropriately focused their attention by now to what China has been doing to the Uyghur Muslims living in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The estimated population of Uyghurs is about 12 million: The US, believed to have strong influence over several Arab countries has on several occasions accused China on committing genocide in Xinjiang. Many human rights groups too have published reports accusing China of crimes against Uyghurs that includes targeting of Muslim religious figures, banning religious practices and destroying of mosques and tombs. Notwithstanding, none of the countries in the Islamic world are known to have come forward for the cause of Uyghur Muslims in these years. This also raises a concern if the current move of Qatar and some other Islamic countries to so vehemently condemn and protest an episode during a television debate in India is spontaneous or intently engineered by some vested interests.
In the past, the successive Congress and Congress supported governments in India, the foreign policy was largely left to the Foreign Service officers within the routine government dictated framework of non-alignment; though in practice country often remained aligned with the communist/socialist block. This was the main reason why the US and other Western countries so heavily invested and remained tilted for long towards Pakistan in the South Asia. Since 2014, India has pursued an independent and proactive foreign policy with countries based on the mutual needs, consideration and regional interests without aligning to or favouring any particular block or interest groups. This is the reason why India becomes a partner in Quad for the regional security but simultaneously participates in Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) too. It maintains good relations with the US but successfully resists its pressure from the armament, pharmaceutical and oil lobbies. It has avoided opposing Russia as also taking sides in Russia-Ukraine War during the on-going European crisis considering the fact that India can still count Russia as a trusted ally on defence cooperation and other regional considerations. Considering the dismal diplomatic past, the Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar’s confident, bold and effective handling of the US and EU leadership may not have gone well in these countries. Thus the geo-politics and geo-strategy may not be as simple as they appear on face. The actual reasons could be both political and economic but the possibility cannot be ruled out that few Gulf countries like Qatar and Kuwait may actually be conduit for the players sitting in the West.
Nupur Sharma is not a fringe element as dismissed in the diplomatic jargon under whatsoever compulsions of the government; she participated in the television debate as an official representative of the ruling party; hence she does not deserve to be made scapegoat now. She said something in spur of moment under constant provocation, and for that she has been suspended from the primary membership of the party for six years pending further inquiry. A plethora of FIRs too have been registered following the outrage and accusation against her. Now good sense must prevail and people opposing her should allow the rule of law of the land to operate and decide her fate and punishment, if any. The demonstration, arson and violence done on 10 June 2022 simultaneously by the members of the minority community in 14 Indian states at over 90 instances is beyond any justification and rationale. In one case in Karnataka, an effigy of the lady spokesperson was publicly hanged on road; the incident suggests only the Talibani mentality of the executioners. Today it was her effigy; tomorrow they will probably physically do it to her if proper security is not provided by the system. One hopes that the government and party would properly evaluate security threats to her life and property and provide commensurate arrangements for her safety from the bigot elements.
The present episode establishes yet another paradigm that any right or wrong but unfavourable comment by any non-Muslim on Islam would bring all the Islamic countries and community together to condemn the person that may even cost his (or her) life. On the other hand, everyone has freedom to say anything against Hindu deities and Hinduism with no comebacks. According to Al Qaeda version, the Code and Law revealed by Allah to His Prophet is applicable in every corner of the universe wherever life is present. The author finds a strong semblance to this averment when Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Chief Maulana Arshad Madani recently made a public statement other day that those who do not subscribe to their ideology or ways should leave India and go elsewhere. Such threats and statements can potentially compel any rational mind to seriously contemplate about their uncertain future in own ancestors' land. In the context of Nupur Sharma’s effigy, the following extract of the JNU Professor Anand Rangnathan’s recent tweet appears so relevant: “…Please do not remove it. Nothing else can ever be more symbolic of the tragedy that has become India. This is our future and we want it displayed.” One wonders if the government of the land would take resolve and responsibility in such environment for evolving a proper level playing field for the equal freedom of expression and ease of living for all communities. Few rays of hope and confidence is indeed generated when one finds rioters and rowdy elements running for cover before the Uttar Pradesh provincial administration and police machinery in sharp contrast to Bengal province where the police is found running for own safety against same elements and top administration engaged in passing buck on Delhi.
More by : Dr. Jaipal Singh