Month: January 2014

The Harvest of Hate

The general elections of 2014 are expected to decide the future course of Indian politics and society but what do these elections mean for the minorities of India? Not much, because no matter who forms the government the minorities cannot expect to see any significant change in their social status. Discrimination against minorities is institutionalized. Anyone who tries to argue for the basic human rights of minorities is either branded an appeaser or a terrorist depending on the religious background of the person.

Election time is also a time of high anxiety especially for the Muslim minority. What is often termed as polarisation of the society is in fact the demonisation of the Muslim minority. During elections there is an increased risk of Muslims becoming victims of a manufactured riot in which murderous mobs rape and kill minorities with impunity forcing them to take shelter in “temporary” relief camps where they are forced to live permanently. Even those who are not directly impacted by the riot choose to relocate to ghettos to get a false sense of security.

The painful death of 34 children due to harsh weather did not even register in the collective conscience of the nation. Delhi, which saw massive protests against rape remained unconcerned about the horrendous rapes in Muzaffnagar, a place hardly 100 Kms away from Delhi. The society gives a quiet approval to the rapes that happen during riots. Narendra Modi who is likely to be the next Prime Minister of India took it to a new level of vulgarism by demonising the victims who were sheltering  in the relief camps of Gujarat. In a speech he asked his audience “What should we do? Run relief camps for them? Do we want to open baby-producing centers? Hum paanch, humaare pachhees. [We five, our 25]”

Most of those those who take part in the killings and rapes go back to their families and lead a normal life without ever being held accountable for the heinous crimes they have committed. Law and order is suspended until the authorities are satisfied that the mobs have satisfactorily vented their anger. The leaders who manufacture these riots gain maximum political mileage out of the misery of the victims and attain a godlike aura, a larger than life image among their followers.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee hit the headlines for delivering a venomous speech during violent Assam elections in 1983 in which he said “had foreigners come into Punjab, they would have been cut to pieces” and within hours thousands of Muslims were cut into pieces, all Indians. Atal Bihari Vajpayee went on to become the Prime Minister of India and was known as the moderate face of the BJP. During Vajpayee’s tenure as the Prime Minister Gujarat witnessed state wide killing of minorities which was justified by Vajpayee as a reaction to the killing of Karsevaks by saying “kisne lagayee aag? (who lit the fire?),”.

Narendra Modi the chief Minister of Gujarat has been the harvesting the benefits of hate since 2002. Just after the Gujarat pogrom Modi organised a Gaurav Yatra (pride march) to celebrate the killings. He protected and rewarded the killers. Maya Kodnani who orchestrated the murder of 95 people, many of them women and children, was appointed as Minister for Women and Child Development of Gujarat.

Rajiv Gandhi justified the anti Sikh pogrom of 1984 by saying “when a big tree falls, the earth shakes”. He became the Prime Minister of India with Congress getting absolute majority in the parliament. P V Narsimha Rao was the Home minister when the anti Sikh pogrom took place. He too went on to become the Prime Minister of India and during his tenure Babri Masjid was demolished triggering nationwide riots.

Ironically the political parties that are accused of appeasing the Muslim minority of India have done little or nothing to get justice for victims of communal riots. Narendra Modi systematically destroyed the evidence related to the pogrom of 2002 in full media glare and yet Congress chose to be a mute spectator. The Srikrishna commission appointed to investigate the Mumbai riots found bias against the minorities. The recommendations of the commission were rejected by the Shiv Sena and ignored by the Congress. More than 20 years have passed since the massacres and the victims are still waiting for justice. 

Congress sprung a surprise in 2004 by defeating BJP. Manmohan Singh was appointed as the Prime Minister of India. There was renewed hope that India will finally move on from the politics of hate. Ten years down the line the seeds of hate are being sown again. This time the riot organisers have technology on their side. Videos and images of violence from Pakistan are being used incite hate against minorities. Will the haters have bumper harvest or will their efforts fail? We will soon know.

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