Do Not Speak of The Noose…

‘Festival rubs off scars’, claimed a newspaper report with picture of Muslim men distributing water and sweets to the Hindus celebrating Ram Navami. The place was Balu Math in Latehar. The scars were obviously of the murder of two Muslim men, one of them an adolescent by members of the local Gau Raksha Samiti.

‘Rub off your scars and do not complain’,Muslims are told after each incident of violence against them. Their insistence to talk about their wounds is seen as a sign of their grumbling nature, their love with their victimhood. Also a proof of their disaffection towards Hindus.

“…In the house of the hangman one should not speak of the noose, otherwise one might seem to harbour resentment.”,Theodore Adorno wrote while responding to criticism against his study of the sources of authoritarian personality in Germans in the post Hitler years.

Adorno was trying to look for the socio-psychological sources of Nazism. He was accused of inducing guilt in the Germans about what was not a collective crime, what should be treated as an exception in the history of an otherwise liberal, enlightened culture.

The killing of Akhlaq at Dadri shocked the nation but then attacks on Muslims in the name of saving cows or on some other pretext became a norm and lost their ability to create sensation. There is something boring about the stories of Muslims being attacked or humiliated.  It needs to be said, however, that behind each published story of violence against Muslims lie at least ten stories untold or unreported.Violence against them is like domestic or sexual violence in which the women are expected to understand the temperament of their men and adjust accordingly. Grumbling or resisting women deserve further punishment.

Latehar fell off the main pages of the newspapers very soon. But incidents of beating up of Muslims by dragging them out of tempos or social boycott of Muslim community village after village in Jharkhand have failed even to find space in the media. Diktats have been issued in many villages not to do  business with Muslims.For the last two years Muslims of Jharkhand are enduring this carefully crafted ruthless silent isolation.

How are Muslims expected to react to it? And what do their leaders do in such situations? From calling, petitioning the local police and administration, which in most of the cases is reluctant to taking delegation to the chief minister, staging dharnas, they use all possible democratic means. In some rare cases they encounter officers with a constitutional conscience,but mostly a law and order machinery which sees Muslims with Hindu eyes. The chief minister feigned surprise when apprised of these incidents and asked the delegation,”but who is doing all this?” One of the delegation could not resist and said, “sir, they are those who think that now it was their RAJ PAT.”

Situation is desperate in Jhrakhand for Muslims. Ram Navami, which followed the killing of the two Muslims in Balu Ghat, was celebrated in a wickedly victorious mood through out Jharkhand, playing provocative relegio-nationalist songs directed at Muslims.The memory of the brutal killings could not temper the festive mood.

Ironically,it becomes the responsibility of the Muslims, who are victims to bring back normalcy. They are asked not to carry animosity against Hindus and prove it by demonstrative acts. Victims are seen vying with each other to please their tormentors.

It is seen as a normal democratic practice and part of the freedom of speech to spread venom and hatred against Muslims. This newspaper has  warned and pleaded for the last three months editorially that hate against Muslims should not be made a legitimate electoral platform.It is unnecessary to say that it has gone unheeded.

The Assam election campaign has seen virulent anti-Muslim propaganda. The chief of the ruling party cunningly used an historically absurd example of a thirteen century Ahom king drving out a sixteenth century Mughal Badshah and exhorted the electorate to follow his act. His history may be wrong but it was a deliberate mistake as the message went to the right constituency. While preparing for elections in Kerala, he openly called for consolidation of all Hindu forces.

The rise of dalit and backward politics has not been of much help to the Muslims in India either.If we look at their electoral behavior, they have always chosen parties headed by Hindus.Parties which mobilise maximum number of Hindu votes usually get their support. But even those parties which are known as secular refrain from being seen to be on their side publicly in the time of distress. We saw it in the Trilokpuri violence.Neither the Aaam Admi Party nor other secular parties could muster courage to be seen on the ground helping Muslims. Enthusiastic support  from Muslims of Benaras worried AAP leaders who did not want it be expressed openly for it might arouse suspicion in Hindus.

We approached a senior congress leader in Delhi to request political support for the Muslims of Atali. He explained that they can do it only  incognito as their primary concern now was to win back Hindus:“ You have to understand that Muslims would come back to us only when they are assured that majority of Hindus are with us.” Three years back, in Dhule( Maharahtra) six Muslim youth were killed and many houses burnt. The leaders of the ruling parties, Congress and the NCP did not even think about visiting the bereaved families to console them. To be seen supporting Muslims can be electorally costly.

Democracy in India which gets renewed and affirmed through elections is now in a very strange way pushing Muslims to the margins and invisiblising them.They are losing hope in India. It might sound  alarmist but needs to written as plainly as possible. For the first time in independent India, they feel pushed to the corner and disenfranchised effectively. There have often been reports from the poll bound states about the ‘aggressive’ voting by Muslims. They are nothing but a last ditch attempt to save whatever is left of the plural democratic space where they once felt somehow secure and equal in a land where they are massively outnumbered by the Hindus.

Do not leave us, is what Gandhi had told the Muslims in 1947.India will be incomplete without you.You would not be vassals of Hindus but their proud equals,he had assured them. He was punished with death for this audacity. After him, his disciple Nehru bravely honoured his invitation and was not afraid of being derided as half Muslim-half Christian.Their shadows seem to have receded far from Muslims. The biggest challenge before the secular politics is to bring back the Gandhian courage to declare boldly that it is pro-muslim. If it is not done urgently, we are in danger of losing India, or whatever is left of it.

( Published first by The Indian Express on 27 April,2016)




10 thoughts on “Do Not Speak of The Noose…”

  1. Spot on! We are also grappling with this phenomenon here in the South in the test-tube of the laboratory of the Sangh Parivar (Mangalore). Recently in our area we had the killing of a fisherman by Muslim boys. Apparently they were all drug addicts and some of them were minors. The fisherman, Raju Kotian, was an innocent by-stander who got caught up in the midst of criminal elements. The issue could have turned far more serious but for the fact that the very families of the delinquents handed over the accused to the police on their own in disgust. Even the fishermen community to which Raju belonged lauded their courage and values and even though there was resentment, they accepted that the right thing had been done.
    However, in the last three days there have been two incidents of random attacks on Muslim men. It makes no sense because in each case it was innocent men who were attacked. The MLA of the area is a Muslim minister and it does look like a concerted attempt is being made to worsen the situation deliberately and cynically. But we see this everywhere. When the locals themselves do not seek revenge, we have lumpen elements (by misguided ideas or by deliberate and mischievous designs) causing flare-ups again and again.
    There is no doubt that this place is already polarized and to the extreme. But this effort to keep the flames alive seems to me to be a deliberate attempt to provoke worse.

    Once upon a time Hindus and Muslims used to live in amity here. Now, it is all gone. Two or three decades ago people would have laughed at the idea of communal violence in this area because our lives were interdependent. Today, there is a firm divide and ghetto-ization. And let me add this, there is no let-up from either sides. The youngsters on either side continue to foment hatred and leap to violence at the smallest provocation. What could even a Gandhi do when there are no voices of reason on either side? (Yes, yes, Suhrawardy and Calcutta would be a great example. But not any longer, not in these times).

    1. Dear Tejaswi,
      What you say is quite right. I am also against any political religionism.

      My being against any political religionism is against any religion with state , repeat any religion. The mistake which we made was we tolerated one kind political religionism while berated another kind of political religionism. This gave them the ammunition of being against ‘appeasement’ , which to some extent it was.

      The truly secular society goes by constitution which provides equality before law, be of any religion, caste or creed. If we start tinkering with with constitution to provide exceptions on one pretext t or the other for short term political reasons (albeit couched in apparently palatable expressions), the political advantage will be taken by being against such favouritism. Whatever we may say, a very large section of ordinary people see it as favourtism.

      1. You are quite right. It is seen as appeasement. This was also one of the issues that Apoorvanand wished to illuminate upon in his last article where people would ask why he wrote against Hindus.
        I have faced this question myself in other terms. When asked why I was condemning Hindu rioters in this place, the implicit question was whether I was condoning the actions of the Muslim rioters. But the perception will always be that it is partisan, no matter what I say. Criminals are criminals, no matter what their garb or religion or caste.

        If I may add to this, I firmly believe that religion belongs in your homes, in the privacy of your places of worship even, not on the streets. Secularism does not mean the absence of religion in society (I say that even as an atheist) but the absence of Religion in matters of the State.
        You are exactly right about the opposition being given ammunition. But it was not secularism on the part of the rulers then either. It was merely cynical politics, the art of creating vote banks. It is the same with the Dalits, they were used by successive messiahs. Sadly, it is well entrenched now and will take decades to become a little more rational. But, on the other hand, tampering with the Constitution is something that seems more and more likely and something that I fear greatly.
        Just like Apoorvanand, I too feel the question deeply sometimes, when questioned about my bias (?) or my stand. Sometimes I do not have the answers. I would like to believe I stand neutral, but it is not always so. Sometimes polemics cause more harm than good and may be actually detrimental in the long run. But make no mistake, no one would condone wrong-doing on either sides. I certainly wouldn’t, haven’t.

  2. One cannot be a hindu and democrat at once.Gandhi pretended he is a democratic hindu.That is impossible.Throw off pretensions .B R Ambedkar shows the way.Ambedkarite politics demand courage and action.

    1. Dear MK,
      Getting into a fashionable ‘Gandhi bashing ‘ and joining a a newly coined league of being ‘ Ambekarite ‘ might serve some people politically in a short term , but a society is never built on such militant thoughts.

      The sate and religion should never go it any , repeat any, religion in any reasonable state of modern times.

  3. Most Hindu festivals are ‘celebrating murder festivals’. The ‘rakshas’ (actually ‘rakshaks’ meaning protectors) are at the receiving end. These ‘demons’ are dalits or lower castes. No wonder that the upper castes revel in murdering Muslims, Christians and other minorities. The elite are not just dividing communities, they are also trying to stop mobilisation of these oppressive classes. Manu-perfected ‘divide and rule’ is a stark reality in India To-day. And, this would have grave repercussions in future.

    1. As I said above ‘ Gandhi bashing ‘ ( or similar things ) is fashionable to some extent that it helps carving out a niche for some in the present political space with a emotional appeal of rebellion against imaginary enemy of establishment, but it won’t help the Indian society at all. Whole game is to get some more concessions ..

      Appeasement under pressure or under greed (which might be presented as victory by some groups ) never serves to integrate the society. Society is always built on just premises. We all know what is being just.

      It will serve no purpose if we try to be seen taking revenge of so called historical injustice by inciting feelings of a section of society . Injustice can be eliminated only by being simply removing injustice, and not by counter injustice.

      Political opportunism of any kind never helps in solving societal problems. It stays where it was meant to i.e. political advantage for selfish gains.

  4. This sham of ‘80% majority hindus’ perpetrated by the state is responsible for all the bravado that we see among Sangh Parivar and their cadre. When we know for sure that at least 30% are dalits, non-HIndus. If they had not been appropriated under the ‘Hindu fold’ by Gandhi and his followers, the extremists couldn’t have dared commit their atrocities, due to fear of backlash from the significant others : 15% Muslims+ 30% dalits/tribals/buddihsts.

    You can’t fight Sangh with Gandhi, I am sorry, but it is a misguided attempt. And donot paint all dalit-bahujans as siding with ‘Hindus’. All savarnas need to check their own lot, as majority of the Sangh parivar comes from their caste only.

  5. Superficially it appears that Muslims and for that matter Christians are at the receiving end.True the attacks on them are quite frequent.They remain vulnerable also in view of the general perception of their persecution by the aggressive Hindutava outfits.But what seems to be normally ignored is that Muslims have also consolidated themselves in the past few years.As a matter of fact at present the divide between Hindus and Muslims was never so conspicuous in the post-1947 India as it is today.Nobody should underestimate this phenomena.Apart from this another salient feature of the present Indian society is that Hindus too stand divided between Sanghi Hindus and non-Sanghi Hindus.It is true that non-Sanghi Hindus are not that agressive and articulate Sanghi Hindus are.In the eyes of Sanghi Hindus only he is Hindu who attends shakha and not others.I think this aspect of social reality has started emerging more prominently now and it is hoped this will rise like a bulwark against the other one

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