Many of us are from the generation that was born and brought up in the times when Ram Mandir movement and the Mandal agitation in India were at the peak. Though very dull, but memory suggests I was never stopped by my family to play in the neighbourhood or to go to the houses of my friends, mostly Hindus and their families active in those political movements.
It seems the cycle of hatred has taken a full turn. Children of early nineties have grown up with some sort of sentiment, either pro temple or the pro mosque. India is surely divided on the communal lines. There are few who still support the Idea of India, secularism or the anti-hate politics, but their voices are toning down as state continue its support for those who are often termed as ‘fringe actors’.
The hate crimes are on the rise. India though have a long history of resisting the communal violence and the nation continued to oppose the killings in the name of religion. A large segment of majority community remained opposed to the idea of violence in the name of God. But the time has changed and the mobocracy is a new norm. ‘Fringe elements’ aren’t the fringe elements anymore. They are being recruited and regularised as the political cadre. State seems to be soft on the hate crimes, though it doesn’t wants to be seen supporting them. Political leaders, state machinery and the judiciary are acting in a synchronized way.
What has changed in India during the last thirty years?
Faith and confidence on the neighbour is what we have inherited from our ancestors. We grew up amid all colour of violence. State was never impartial nor did the judiciary. But they never turned such a blind eye towards the hate crimes. At least four incidents of hate shook the very idea of India. First, lynching of an old man Akhlaq in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri in 2015, on mere suspicion of cow meat stored in his refrigerator. Never before the neighbours had peeped into kitchens or crashed into the refrigerators to check what people are eating.
Second most horrible hate crime was the killing of a Muslim labourer Mohammad Afrazul, who was hacked to death and burnt in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand town on December 6, 2017. Who can believe that a man accompanied his known person on a scooter, and he will be killed merely because he was a Muslim. The viral video of this incident had a lesson, never believe or rely anyone, even if he is your friend.
A recent Incident, where a photographer is seen jumping on a body of protestor killed in Assam in police firing is the peak of hatred. The gruesome video suggest that the human sentiments have been subdued by the hatred based on faith. Accused, Bijoy Bonia is reportedly a government cameraperson who was filming the clashes during the eviction drive in Sipajhar area of Darrang district.
Earlier in the month of June, 2017, one minor Muslim boy was stabbed to death and four others were injured on board a Mathura-bound train. It was reported that an argument over a seat turned into religious slurs and triggered a mob attack on family members returning home from Eid shopping. The mob killed Hafiz Junaid (16), in the name of religion. At least we believed that the children are spared from settling scores.
So, what’s coming up next?
Gandhi ji said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. Hate is a threat to not only to the idea of India, but also to the nation named India. People have lived together for years, irrespective of their faith, colour, caste or ethnicity. What we have seen during the recent times is killing the idea of unity in diversity. Hate is promoting more hate. Still we can thank, despite a capacity to retaliate, the second largest majority has shown a restraint. It’s not out of fear but for the respect of law and constitution. It’s the duty of the government that the people continue to keep faith in the system. The hate crimes should be stopped, before people lose their faith in the criminal justice system.
- Changhez Khan is a Delhi based advocate. He is associated with a legal firm Diwan Advocates.