PM's words too little, too late

Kashmir Times. Dated: 2/28/2020 1:11:38 AM

Where govt abdicates responsibility, ordinary citizens driven by secular ethos show the way

Prime minister Narendra Modi's appeal for maintaining peace and harmony, five days after the capital city began being caught up in communal frenzy and ugly violence, resulting in, so far, 28 deaths, injuries to hundreds and vandalism and destruction of property, is too little and too late. It came only after scathing criticism of the government and police's inaction by the opposition and the strictures passed by the Delhi high court, whose judge was interestingly posted out soon after the hearing, also after the image of the country has been badly maligned internationally. Modi, whose political fortunes were built by stoking communal violence and whose government appears to have consistently adopted a policy that excluded minorities particularly Muslims, has broken his silence but these lukewarm words remain meaningless and do not compensate for the damage that has been done by his government. The present situation is not accidental and was in the making ever since Modi government brought in the Citizenship Amendment Bill and National Population Register coupled with union home minister, and Modi's aide, Amit Shah warning of a nationwide National Register of Citizenship. Together, the CAA, NPR and NRC seek to create a template for Indian citizenship that is not based on equality. While the BJP government twiddled thumbs as university campuses were set on fire, in the run up to the Delhi elections, many BJP functionaries including the union home minister took to inflammatory and hate speeches. There is a systemic build up by incitement to mobs leading to the present situation. Modi has taken no ownership of the genesis of the flames that his government and party-men have been responsible for. Far from acknowledging the wrongs, his government functionaries are either cocooned into silence or are inventing the conspiracy theory.
Amidst this dismal scenario as Hindutva inspired mobs go on rampage and some Islamic radicals join the game by paying back in the same coin, while the government looks the other way, giving those indulging in arson, loot and violence a free hand, hope is revived by the indomitable spirit of secularism that continues to evince itself in the peace marches organized by some political and social activists as well as ordinary people on both sides of the communal divide. These voices of reason, peace and brotherhood need to be amplified and must not be lost in the din of the present spate of vitriolic hatred. The flames of hatred and dance of barbarity aside, there have been reports of a BJP councillor from Yamuna Nagar saving a Muslim family from the onslaught of rabid mobs chanting Jai Shri Ram slogans, of ordinary people in the Chand Bagh area, bonding together to save the Durga temple and the Jama Masjid that faced each other in the area, despite the incidents of stone pelting and lobbing of petrol bombs by mobs, of Muslims standing guard outside a temple and Hindu family's house in Indira Nagar, of cricketer turned BJP politician Gautam Gambhir standing up to call spade a spade by criticizing the vitriolic hatred poured by men from his party including Kapil Mishra. Hindus and Muslims in the Brij Puri area took out a peace march raising slogans 'Hindu Muslim bhai bhai', challenging vested interests to dare damage the social fabric marked by trust and harmony and woven with patience and respect towards all. Where the government has abdicated responsibility, ordinary people with avowed faith in the secular values of the country enshrined in India's constitutional and rooted in tradition. As long as this spirit, as already evinced in the secular spaces of resistance like Shaheen Bagh, continues to inspire a vast chunk of humanity in this country, the merchants of hate in and outside the government will never be allowed to go ahead with their toxic design of politics of division and exclusion.

 

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