Dante's Age is Passe
Extra reserves of patience in the face of extraordinary provocation could be the only remedy for a community caught in a situation like Indian Muslims. Though the communal lobby has never exhausted its bag of pinpricks, there seems to be a special effort to instigate violence in the post-Kandahar period. By now famous quote from the chief of one such organisation, dubbing the majority community as ‘coward’ has all the potential to inflame passions. Had the statement emanated from any other quarters, it would have attracted legal action for denigrating a whole community. The deafening silence reeks of a conspiracy in the making. One is compelled to infer the quote was meant to stoke the embers of vengeance and it is needless to say against whom.
What can be said at this hour is that these are special times. And we are living in a composite, and complex, society. Succumbing to provocations would only serve the objectives of the communalists who are facing the real test of their existence now. Let it be understood that in a networked global village, people cannot be fooled any more. Petty agendas can no longer remain hidden. They will come out unstuck. The people and the world will see through this game of expanding this Kandahar effect on the whole country. India’s is an open society inhabited by a vast section of sober people. Nearly 20 million Indians or people of Indian origin live abroad, mostly in the English speaking part of the globe and they know where the umbilical cord of kandahar like incidents ends. They understand the ethnic, geographical and historical background of the conflict that erupts in ugly forms like the Kandahar hijacking. Therefore, efforts to demonise a particular community elsewhere are bound to fail.
In all fairness, it must be said that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance Government has behaved responsibly by localising the problem in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. It now realises that it has got nothing to do with the Muslims in other states of India. Major representative organisations of Indian Muslims too have condemned the terrorist act of hijacking, holding of hostages and killing of an innocent passenger. But the party’s minions in the media and bureaucracy are yet to discover the futility of the agenda of expanding the region of conflict, at least in the psychological sense of the word.
The policy of Muslim-bashing has its own limitations in a society like India. By now it has been made evident in myriad forms. The Congress lost power at the centre because of its pseudo-secularism which meant being indifferent to the gross violation of human rights when the victims were Muslims. Perhaps no other party can ever dream of more pan-Indian appeal than the Indian National Congress. The BJP has much narrow social base and sustains itself in the power thanks to a 24-party coalition. Given this reality, it will be proper for the centre to attend to the immediate needs of the people rather than encouraging religious schisms. Five years of instability has cost the nation dearly. The 12 percent Muslims evenly spread through the geographical expanse of the nation, can provide a firm social bulwark for any party that aspires to rule at the centre. The uninterrupted 40-year Congress rule bears testimony to this fact. The rising tide of fissiparous and centrifugal forces should be enough to convince us against doing anything that disturbs the social equilibrium any more.
It is time the pinpricks being administered through the acts such as the one enacted by the Uttar Pradesh Government or the petty instigations such as desecration of places of worship are checked. No person in his right senses will ever launch broadsides against another’s faith. Dante’s age is passe. Nothing escapes public censure and cheap gimmicks recoil on the sources from where they originate. Let us all build a world where everyone lives with his dignity intact, his faith unharmed and life sacrosanct.
Muslims have contributed to the unity of this nation in no small measure. Let us be reminded of the fact that it was the much-maligned Mughal ruler Aurangzeb who annexed Afghanistan into Mughal India. Significantly, commander-in-chief of the Aurangzeb’s army then was Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Jaipur. And the person who carried the militants on his flight to Kandahar last month was his namesake from the modern, free India. It is for the nation to decide which of the Jaswant Singhs brought India glory and who surrendered its honour. Certainly we do not want to sit in judgement. Pseudo-nationalists have come into the open.