Secular Hindus Will Do It This Time!

Encroachment on the government land, parks, roads, etc. is big nuisance and problem in several Indian cities including the national capital Delhi. This is also true that the administration in the state governments irrespective of the ruling party passively allow this to happen owing to apathy or political interests that causes a lot of inconvenience to common people and then they suddenly wake up to take anti-encroachment drive under some constraint or compulsion. Almost every political party in power in the national capital Delhi has willy-nilly contributed to happen this in the past few decades but the problem has become more acute after the Aam Admi Party (AAP) came in power in 2015 on the promises of freebies and popular support from lower echelon. Consequently, several illegal localities and clusters have come up with the labour class and thousands of illegal immigrant Rohingyas and Bangladeshi families.

Recently, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) had launched an anti-encroachment drive in the beginning of May 2022 to remove illegal structures from roads and other government land in areas within its jurisdiction. Under their action plan, the identified areas were Jahangirpuri, Sangam Vihar, Kalindi Kunj, MB Road, Meharchand Market, Sriniwas Puri, Khada Colony, Shaheen Bagh (main road), Lodhi Colony, New Friends Colony, Madanpur Khadar, and so on. In about ten days, illegal encroachments were removed from over 30 places using bulldozers in a coordinated action of the SDMC and Delhi police. In all these cases, the encroachments were either voluntarily removed by the people themselves or the action team without any focus or coverage by the media and press. Incidentally, any case of resistance or untoward incident on account of the anti-encroachment drive was not received from these places mostly populated by the majority (Hindu) community.

However, the hell broke on 9th May as soon as the anti-encroachment team reached Shaheen Bagh with bulldozer. A large number of people from the particular minority community gathered under the leadership of the AAP legislature, who has gained notoriety during the last 2-3 years of getting involved at all occasions where the interests of his community were involved. While engaged in heated arguments and slogan shouting against the authorities, many people even lay down on roads to block the movement of the demolition squad. After hours of hullaballoo and pandemonium, the SDMC and police team had to retreat without action against the illegal structures and encroachments. In fact, video clips have been circulating in the social media with some Shaheen Bagh lads (or goons!) arrogantly saying, “hum dekh lenge, yadi vo log yahan aate hain…iske liye barha jigra chahiye! (We will see them, if they come here…for this, one needs a lot of gut and courage!). Earlier, in almost similar situation in Jahangirpuri, a prompt stay was granted by the Supreme Court on a petition of the Islamic organization the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind. However, in Madanpur Khadar, the people of minority community started stone-pelting, following which the police had to use light force and the demolition squad proceeded to accomplish its job.

So why it is so that the same MCD team and police accomplish their task in areas chiefly inhabited by the majority (Hindu) community without any violence, media blitz and political interference but when the same team goes to a locality dominated by the particular minority community to remove unauthorized structures and encroachment, they face a stiff opposition, criticism and even abuse and violence. The story doesn’t end here as certain political parties, a section of media and self-proclaimed seculars and liberals come in support of the offenders and aggressively indulge in a disinformation campaign nationally and internationally that the particular minority population is being harassed by the government and the democracy and secularism are endangered in India. To put it bluntly, the same bulldozer is secular when rolls out for action in the majority community areas but as soon as it starts operation in the particular minority community dominated area, it becomes utterly communal incurring the wrath of such population and self-proclaimed custodians of secularism in India.

Secularism per se has different meaning and connotations in different nations and contexts. In the Western countries, the secularism implies complete separation of the religion from State. Notwithstanding this position, many of them are officially secular yet they have endorsed an official state religion, usually Christianity. Even the President of US calls himself secular but takes the oath of office on Bible instead of the Constitution. In India, the secularism implies equal treatment to all religions in India without endorsing or giving any preferential treatment to any one by the state. The term secular was introduced in the Preamble to the Indian Constitution through the 42nd amendment decades after the independence; however, any law or rule does not officially define the relationship between the state and religion.

The laws of the country, however, implicitly ask the state and its institutions to recognise all religions, enforce parliamentary laws in all cases, and recognize and respect pluralism in the country. Notwithstanding these constitutional provisions, there is a clear dichotomy in the applicable codes of law because Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains in the country live under the common law while the Muslim community has a separate Sharia-based Muslim Personal Law including the matters such as inheritance, marriage, divorce, alimony etc. Then contrary to the constitutional status of equal treatment, this community with a significant population and electoral base was constantly given preferential treatment in all walks of life by Mr Jawaharlal Nehru led Indian National Congress in post-independence era and last prime minister of this party Mr Manmohan Singh is on record to have stated addressing the National Development Council on 9 December 2006 that the minorities, particularly Muslims, have first claim on the national resources.

The rationale of this statement is beyond comprehension as equal treatment of all communities provided in the Constitution is well taken but why should one community with a population of over 200 million be given a preferential treatment in deviation of the same Constitution. It’s paradoxical more so because three Islamic countries, namely Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh have already created by dividing mainland Bharat (India) in the past. Over the decades, the Communist and Regional/Socialist parties in India too have tried their own way to attract Muslim electorate by promising or offering various socio-religious and economic concessions and freebies emulating the age-old tactics of the grand old party, and they have been successful too in their endeavour to a considerable extent. All this has distorted the very concept of secularism in the country. Consequently, those who always take sides with the minority community irrespective of the merit of the cause proclaim themselves as true secularists and others who are in favour of equal treatment of all communities including Hindus are accused of being communalist and majoritarian.

The Shaheen Bagh area in the national capital Delhi needs special mention in this context which came in limelight receiving attention of the national and international media during the protests against the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) during 2019-20. The most unacceptable and unforgivable part of the prolonged unrest was the use of students in various universities and academic institutions owing to an orchestred disinformation campaign through the electronic and social media to create lawlessness and ruckus in the cities and 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 and protest when the law was neither against Muslims nor it was impacting Indian Muslims in any way. This ruckus was created when the aforesaid legislation was made to consider the grant of nationality to the refugees of various communities from the neighbouring Islamic countries. In this case the persecuted people were all other religious communities while the persecutors were Islamists. The resolve of Shaheen Bagh residents not to allow administration and police to operate in the area appears to be a new experiment which together with the seemingly helpless administration and police certainly poses dangerous implications and serious threat to the sovereignty and integrity of the nation.

Ancient Hindu scriptures talk about one God for the entire humanity and also that the paths (religions) may be different but the destination (God) is same for all human beings. Then there are Gods and religions, if you do not follow them, you are proclaimed kafir and sinner. Recently, the people of the minority community had gone to Madras High Court in Tamil Nadu in 2021 with the plea that they are in majority in a particular area, hence the court should ban Hindus to celebrate festivals and take out religious processions in that area. In April, 2022, dozens of violent attacks occurred during Hindu festivals in the same minority dominated areas in many Indian states. From the current mayhem and conundrum followed by the refusal of administration for granting permission to the majority community for public function or procession at some places, it appears that the people with nefarious motives have indeed succeeded partially in their designs.

The recent Shaheen Bagh incident wherein the administration and police retreated without removing encroachments or taking commensurate legal action against the unruly mob, raises genuine questions if the Indian Constitution and laws are applicable at all in this area. In fact, this is not an isolated place as this author had experienced similar situations during his long years of civil service in the cities like Meerut and Allahabad too where police was unwilling and wary of even entering certain localities except during a special drive or operation. Such places and incidents indeed give a feeling as if many mini countries are being created inside India, which are beyond the normal reach of government and Indian laws are not followed or applicable there. This is indeed a very unfortunate position and bad omen for the sovereignty and integrity of India. Unless this trend is reversed in time, the aforesaid brand of secular Hindus will be responsible for the disintegration of the nation and Hindu culture this time in the coming decades in the same way as the divided and selfish rulers and traitors did in the undivided Bharatvarsha when the Islamic invaders started their onslaught and mayhem centuries ago.  

More By  :  Dr. Jaipal Singh

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