Amidst national pride in India’s recent space mission achievement, where the country marked its success in ‘conquering the moon,’ a somber question arises.
The question is, “Can the nation’s collective achievement be truly celebrated while the divisive walls of hatred between two sectarian groups continue to obstruct unity on Earth?”
“Hostility against Muslims in our beloved country is manifesting in new forms every day, with new characters coming to the forefront. At times, this animosity is being propagated within society by individuals holding positions of power. It sometimes thrives during religious gatherings and processions. Occasionally, it targets a sect in the name of civilization and culture or hides behind the facade of so-called nationalism. There is no denying that hatred, intolerance, and violence have taken root in the ‘New India’.
The roots of this hatred have grown so deep that it is no longer confined to movies alone. This communalism is now evident on the streets, in trains, buses, markets, and even within educational institutions, schools, and colleges.
Those who propagate bigotry and hatred, riding the uncontrolled horse of prejudice, seem oblivious to its dire consequences. They believe that by oppressing a certain section, belittling them, interfering in their religious practices, attacking their dietary choices and appearance, and relegating them to second-class citizenship, the nation will progress and prosper. However, this is a crude and misguided notion. Regrettably, the India that Mahatma Gandhi introduced to the world as a symbol of ‘non-violence’ has now become synonymous with hatred, intolerance, and violence.
At present, the entire nation, irrespective of caste and religion, is celebrating India’s achievement of ‘conquering the moon’. Through the success of ‘Chandrayaan 3’, we have left our mark in the realm of science and space exploration. Yet, while we raise our flag on the moon and aspire to lead the world, asserting our role as a ‘Vishwa Guru’ (world teacher), we are simultaneously steering the country into a pit from which escape seems impossible. Overcoming this challenge is anything but simple. The walls of hatred aren’t merely dividing two sects; they are obstructing the path to progress, much like the way to the moon.
Can we truly take pride in our lunar accomplishment? Why is it that our scientific endeavors and ‘Rover’ technology fail to address the rampant hatred spreading within our nation? The situation is so contentious that determining whether ‘Chandrayaan 3’ truly represents the ‘New India’ becomes increasingly challenging. Do you grasp the gravity of the situation, or is the incident that transpired in the Muzaffarnagar school the true reflection of the ‘New India’? It’s lamentable that this poison of hatred, intolerance, and violence is not emerging from the grassroots, but is trickling down from the upper echelons of society.
The poison of sectarianism has deeply rooted itself in society. Over the past few years, there have been numerous examples where the government, police, and administration have conveyed the message that those responsible for committing atrocities are not held accountable in court, but rather hold positions of power. Recent events in Nuh serve as a fresh example of this.
Individuals who are perceived by the righteous class of the country as being truly accountable for these events comfortably appear on television giving interviews. Conversely, about 1,000 houses belonging to the same class have been demolished, businesses destroyed, and hundreds of people have been imprisoned. We witnessed a government guard named Chetan, poisoned by hatred, selectively killing three Muslims in a moving train in Maharashtra, and it seems he had intentions of doing more. Initially, there was an attempt to downplay Cross’s crime by attributing it to mental illness.
From the perspective of how people react after watching the recently released film ‘Ghadar 2,’ one can gauge the essence of the ‘new India.’ A reporter asked a young girl about her opinion of the movie, and she commented on the intense fear visible on the faces of Muslims depicted.
Similarly, when the same question was posed to a 94-year-old woman, she responded, “Well, it’s a matter of pride for our people to fight against so many Muslims.” ‘Ghadar 2’ was even honored with the ‘National Film Award’ in the National Solidarity category. During its screening, it became evident how much hatred and resentment spread through society via the cinemas. Not only was the film exempted from taxes, but the ruling class in different parts of the country arranged for free screenings of the film.
Given this context, the question arises, “Whom should one advocate for, and from whom should one seek justice?” Consider who can deliver justice against oppression and with whom discussions and negotiations should take place in order to maintain communal harmony. The answer to this question should also be provided to those who want the oppressed to submit to the oppressor, imploring them to establish peace and tranquility in the country.
Is the incident in the Muzaffarnagar limited to just a teacher or one child? Perhaps not. This is not a case that should be disregarded. Mere words of condemnation are insufficient for the disgraceful actions of a female teacher within the realm of education. Not only has she tarnished the stature and honor of a teacher, but this woman, steeped in hatred, has depicted the reality of present-day India.
Kabir Das has a couplet, ‘Guru Govind doo stand, kake lago paye,’ wherein he describes the importance of both the Guru and Govind (God). It suggests that circumstances may arise where it’s challenging to decide whom to respect first when the Guru and Govind stand together. However, Tripta Tyagi, a teacher at Neha Public School in Muzaffarnagar, has shown that Kabir’s verse holds no meaning in the ‘new India.’ Could anyone have envisioned such events before?
If this were to ever occur, the accused would have been consumed by shame and guilt, and action against them would have been inevitable. However, this is not the reality today. In this era of hatred, shame, and accountability have vanished, and there is no apprehension of legal consequences. The victim appears to be the one filled with fear. This is why, in Muzaffarnagar, a Muslim child is isolated and physically assaulted by Hindu children in the classroom. Similarly, in Madhya Pradesh, a Muslim school was razed down simply because non-Muslim girls were wearing headscarves.
The principal, teacher, and security guard of the school were apprehended for pressuring students to wear hijabs. Have you observed any similar action being taken in ‘Neha Public School’ in Muzaffarnagar, analogous to what occurred in ‘Ganga Jamuna Public School’ in Dumoh? No, because here, the victim is Muslim and the accused is Hindu. In the ‘new India,’ the very definition of justice and injustice, oppressor and oppressed, has transformed.
Examine the records of BJP-governed states over the past few years, and you’ll see dual standards of justice for similar crimes. The fact that the father of the affected child in Muzaffarnagar did not even file a complaint with the police reflects fear and a sense of inferiority. It was due to conscientious Indians active on social media that this incident came to light. Ideally, the parents of the Hindu children, who were victims of the Muslim child’s assault, would have come forward and demanded action against the teacher. However, this did not occur, as it aligns with the ‘heightened image’ of the ‘New India.’
(The Author is the Resident Editor of the Urdu Daily Inquilab Delhi)
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The thoughts and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author.