“If while smuggling a cow, a cattle smuggler is killed then there is no wrong in that. The cow is our mother and we are saving her.”-said off of the ‘GAU RAKSHAK’ on being asked about cow vigilantism.
In this modern arena social media has taken all over our senses and I am no exception to that. As soon as the Sun sneaks into my room from the little crevices left uncovered by the curtains, I open my eyes to my facebook feed and as habitual to it, I did the same this morning too but this time what appears before me is a video named “THE MAKING OF LYNCHISTAN” by The Quint, where I heard this view of a GAU RAKSHAK supporting and justifying cow vigilantism.
My motive here is though not to talk about ‘cow vigilantism’ or ‘lynching’ a bigger cause that begotten it and that is communalism.
What is communalism and how it has caused unrest in modern India?
Communalism, as we understand it in our country is blind loyalty to one’s own religious group. It is described as a tool to mobilize people for or against by raising an appeal on communal lines. Communalism is associated with religious fundamentalism and dogmatism.
So, this is how we define communalism and to the question of unrest, let’s have a sneak peek into the history of India during various stages.
If we discuss Indian society, we will find that ancient India was united and no such communal feelings were there. People lived peacefully together, there was acceptance for each other’s culture and tradition. For example, Ashoka followed religious tolerance and focussed mainly on Dhamma.
In the Medieval period, we have examples such as- Akbar, who was the epitome of secular practices and believed in propagating such values by abolishing Jaziya tax and starting of Din-I- ilahi and IbadatKhana. Same acceptance for different cultures and tradition was practised in several kingdoms throughout India, because of which there were peace and harmony, barring few sectarian rulers like Aurangzeb, who was least tolerant for other religious practices. But, such motives were guided purely for their personal greed of power and wealth.
Communalism in India is a result of the emergence of modern politics, which has its roots in the partition of Bengal in 1905 and feature of the separate electorate under the Government of India Act, 1909. Later, the British government also appeased various communities through Communal award in 1932, which faced strong resistance from Gandhi ji and others. All these acts were done by the British government to appease Muslims and other communities, for their own political needs. This feeling of communalism has deepened since then, fragmenting the Indian society and being the cause of its unrest.
Now, coming to the present situation Rightly said Voltaire- *”If God didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”*
Because People are too fragile to take the blame, so they need someone to put the blame on- be it a fellow human, Satan or the God itself, in whose name they’re justified to kill.
Religion and Politics today are playing that very role.
Today, Religion is not what it was perceived earlier instead it has become a tool for political advantage.
Indeed, politics is religion today and politicians, sorry to say are the chosen Avatars.
They’re making us drink religion as an opium and thus, guiding our actions through the handcuffs of their sick political agendas.
Did you think people are being killed, molested and lynched because of their faith, God and religion?
But that religion is politics.
Take any incident of riots and lynching and prove it that no politician or political party was behind it.
In the name of “Chau tarfaVikas”, the names of the cities are being changed and;
In the name of “Ache din”, miscreants are being set free to organise mass-lynching and riots.
What could be political agenda behind this?
What could be the reason behind distorting and manipulating history that-
“How Hindus were safe under a Hindu king and how Muslims ruled under the Mughals.”
“How Mughals deceived India and how Aurangzeb demolished the temples.”
What made people such blind followers, I wonder!
This Gandhi Jayanti, I was so humiliated as a citizen of this nation that the father of the nation is being made fun of.
Since Childhood, I was being taught his lessons of Non-violence and the role he played in the freedom of the nation.
But today, the Godse mentality is laughing at him and ignoring the part he played as a freedom fighter.
You tell me-“Ain’t they playing the “Divide and Rule” policy of the British?
“Ain’t they dividing people in the name of religion?”
Tell me-” If the Gujarat riots of 2002 were any different from the Jallianwalabagh tragedy?”
Tell me-” How they are right in demolishing a mosque when Aurangzeb was wrong in demolishing the temples?”
Just think about it!
How we as the people of India have chosen a sick-mentality over our safety, job security, freedom of thought, religion and speech.
India has always been under some communal powers since the augment of British rule, but how it went into the dept of communalism is a whole deep down process.
Stages in Indian Communalism and how it spread.
India is a land of diversity. And it is known for lingual, ethnic, cultural and racial diversity. As we have discussed above, communalism in India is a modern phenomenon, which has become a threat to India’s Unity in Diversity. We will see the various stages:-
First stage was the rise of nationalist Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, etc. with the only first element of communalism as discussed above. Roots of this were led in later part of the 19th century with Hindu revivalist movements like Shuddhi movement of Arya Samaj and Cow protection riots of 1892.
Second stage was of Liberal communalism, it believed in communal politics but liberal in democratic, humanist and nationalist values. It was basically before 1937. For example organisations like Hindu Mahasabha, Muslim League and personalities like M.A. Jinnah, M Malviya, Lala Lajpat Rai after 1920s
Third was the stage of Extreme Communalism, this had a fascist syndrome. It demanded a separate nation, based on fear and hatred. There was a tendency to use violence of language, deed and behaviour. For example the Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha after 1937.
It spread as a by-product of colonialism, economic stagnations and absence of modern institutions of education and health. These factors caused competition, people started using nepotism (patronage bestowed or favouritism shown on the basis of family relationship, as in business and politics), paying bribes to get a job, etc. Short-term benefits from communalism started giving validity to communal politics.
Later on, the spread of education to peasant and small landlords gave rise to the new middle class, as agriculture was becoming stagnant. So, these people started demanding communal representation and this way, the social base for communalism widened. Middle class oscillated between anti-imperialism and communalism. Communalism, started rooting deeply, as it was an expression of aspiration and interest of middle class for less opportunity.
Further, from very beginning upper caste Hindus dominated colonial services as they adapted early to the colonial structure. Because of Mughal rule and 1857 revolt, the colonial government was suspicious towards Muslims and they patronised Hindus. This resulted in resentment in Muslims in the late 19th century and they then formed a pressure group under Sir Sayed Ahmed Kahn to bargain as a separate community. In contrast, Congress standpoint was always focused on ‘rights and freedom of individual’ not on a particular community
In several parts religious distinction coincided with social and class distinction, causing communal distortion. The communal outlook was given, not by participants but by the officials, politician and journalists. In fact, agrarian conflicts did not assume communal colour until the 20th century. For example- Pabna agrarian movement.
And the development of these stages of communalism paved for extreme uproar of communal violence that we all have witnessed. Some of them are as follows-
Partition of India,1947:
After partition, millions of population were forced to move from both sides of the border. Hindus in Pakistan and Muslims in India were killed in masses, women were raped, and many children lost their parents. There was hatred everywhere, violence didn’t see anything except bloodshed. Later, it turned in the problem of refugees and their rehabilitation became one of the biggest challenges for independent India.
Anti-Sikh riots, 1984:
This is one of the bloodsheds in India, where Sikhs in large number were massacred by anti- Sikh mob. This massacre took place in response to the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by his own Sikh body Guard in response to her actions authorising the military operation.
Ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindu Pundits in 1989:
Kashmir is known as the heaven of India and was known for its Kashmiryat, i.e. the reflection of love, peace and harmony through brotherhood and unity of Hindu, Muslims and other communities living together. But, the brotherhood saw a serious blow due to Extremist Islamic terrorism in the Kashmir valley, which led to the mass killing and large-scale exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley to the various regions and corners of India, giving them the status of refugee in their own country. Since then, the valley is under the grip of communal violence and the ongoing unrest has become a problem for the development of the people.
Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya, 1992:
According to Hindu mythology, Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Rama and therefore it is the sacred place for Hindu religion. But in medieval period Mughal general Mir Baqi built a mosque, named after Mughal ruler Babur. There were disputes since then and riots also took place. But in 1990, due to some political mobilisation, there was atmosphere of protest by Hindu religious groups and in large-scale “karsevak” visited Ayodhya from all parts of India, in support of demolishing Babri Masjid and building Ram temple there. These movements caused the huge amount of bloodshed and since then it is a disputed matter.
After this, violence was followed by the Godhra incident in 2002, when “karsevak” returning from Ayodhya in a Sabarmati Express were killed by fire in the coaches of the train. This act was followed by the extended communal violence in Gujarat. That violence is like a black spot in the history of the Gujarat and nation too, as people were killed without any mercy. Hindu and Muslim community became the antagonist to each other. Till now people are fighting for justice in Supreme Court, with a ray hope from the Indian Judiciary.
Assam Communal violence,2012 :
Northeastern states are known for its distinguished tribal population & ethnic diversity and large-scale Bangladeshi immigration has changed the demography of Northeastern states, which often becomes a reason for clashes. In 2012, there were ethnic clashes between Bodos (Tribal, Christian & Hindu faith) and Muslims. Ethnic tensions between Bodos and Bengali-speaking Muslims escalated into a riot in Kokrajhar in July 2012, when unidentified miscreants killed four Bodo youths at Joypur.
Muzaffarnagar violence, 2013:
The cause of this ethnic clash between Jat and Muslim community is very much disputed and has many versions. According to few, it was started after some suspicious post on Social media platform Facebook. According to some, it was escalated after the eve teasing case in Shamli. Let the reasons be unknown, but what matters is, the nature and scale of loss to the country with respect to human resource and peace.
In all these and hundreds of other riots, one thing is common that the huge majority of victims have nothing to do with communal hatred. In short, preparators of violence and victims of violence are different persons.
Now coming back to from where we started, in today’s modern India, the communal feelings are deeply rooted in the nation that sometimes comes out in the name of cow vigilantism, sometimes behind the mask of the Ram Mandir issue.
But if you look closely these are all politically motivated movements to keep up the political careers secured by sacrificing the peace and harmony prevailing in the country, making religion a tool.