Communal Polarisation : What Will You Say Now?

Ever since NDA government had come to power, there has been an anticipation of a surge of Hindu majoritarianism. True to belief, reports emerged of Hindu groups propagating ideas like Love Jehad, Ghar Wapsi etc. Some BJP parliamentarians even used derogatory language like Ramzaade, meaning sons of Ram, and  Haraamzaade, meaning those who are not sons of Ram. Such attempts were believed to be an attempt towards consolidating Hindu votes in states  which were due for elections. Diatribes against muslims were followed by attacks on christian churches culminating in sexual assault on an elderly christian missionary in West Bengal.

All such acts which were believed to be orchestrated by Hindu right, had cascading effect on the government both nationally and internationally. President Barrack Obama, a state guest in India, preached how India should remain united to progress on the path to prosperity. At the national level, opposition parties had stalled functioning of upper house of parliament and demanded a statement from prime minister of India. One session of parliament was lost because NDA government could not present important bills in Rajya Sabha. In the end, Prime Minister had denounced such act, vowed to protected constitutional rights of all Indians.  Unconfirmed reports claimed that prime minister had threatened to quit unless, right wing fringe elements were reined in by sangh parivar. 

Many prominent leaders of Christian community had meanwhile expressed a sense of insecurity and helplessness. Celebrated police commissioner Mr. Julio Rebeiro, wrote an article in Indian express about he he felt alienated in his own country. Principal of Sophiya College Mumbai, in an interview to NDTV compared India to Nazi Germany. After rape of an elderly nun in West Bengal, vice chairperson of minority commission, Ms. Maria Fernandes blamed BJP and RSS for the ghastly event. According to her, all the attacks on minority communities, including rape of a missionary, could be attributed to religious polarisation initiated by BJP and RSS.

All the while, BJP spokespeople had to urge everyone to wait for police investigation to be over. However, all their appeal went in vain. Now if we look carefully at the issue of BJP mediated minority bashing, the following points emerge:

1. BJP did not gain from minority bashing in Delhi. Infact, it had lost the state by record margin gaining only three seats. Definitely, polarisation effort, if any, did not work.

2. All report of assault on christian church emerged around the time of Delhi election. Thereafter, no report has come about attack on church. One should analyse carefully, who did gain from assault on the Church. Definitely not BJP, because minority community leaders had advised their members not to vote for the party.

3. Of the six or so cases of church vandalism and desecration reported in Delhi, one case was due to short circuit in the building. A second case involved a drunk man who pelted stone at Church building. So far no evidence has emerged that the man belonged to any rightwing Hindu group.

4. One case of Church vandalism in Mumbai, it emerged that a group of people were unhappy at removal of their gambling den. They had suspected a role of church in the act. By the way, even a member of muslim community was also part of the vandals.

5. The ghastly rape of a nun in West Bengal, was carried out by a group of people only two of whom have been arrested. One member of the gang was from Bangladesh. He happened to be from minority muslim community. Another member is a Hindu. There is no report to suggest that the Hindu man subscribed to right wing Hindu ideology.

6. Law and order is a state subject. Why does states not act strongly on people and groups they suspect to be indulging in polarisation along communal and religious lines? Is it because a communally charged cauldron is more beneficial electorally or they do not want to antagonise majority vote bank?

7. Protecting minority rights is not the preserve of a few secular parties. What would successive governments of Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party say about their inability to deliver justice to members of minority community in Hashimpura massacre? Why don’t their hearts bleed now? How come after twenty eight years no justice could be provided to families of victims?

I think it is abominable to divide Indians along communal lines. It is important to analyse cause and effect relationship of an event, before jumping into conclusion on communal polarisation.  All those people who felt so offended due to perceived communal polarisation in the country, what will they say now as our understanding improves and clarity emerges? 

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