Shameful to use Ankit Saxena's murder to stoke Hindu-Muslim tensions

Killing a son or daughter for defying family members over choice of life partners is not unique to any community. It is a larger malaise in our part of the world.

 |  4-minute read |   04-02-2018
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One of the top trends on Twitter on Saturday was #AnkitSaxena, a 23-year old young photographer from Delhi murdered by the family members of the 20-year old girl he was allegedly in a relationship with for three years.

No, Ankit's case was not trending merely to demand justice for the victim's family or as a debate over the law and order situation in the national capital. Not even because some custodians of culture and tradition are supporting the murderers or because Twitterati are outraged over the "honour killing". Ankit's case has instead given the right wing and their whole politics grounds to demonise and target the community they love to hate.

Ankit's girlfriend Shehzadi was a Muslim. His killers, the girl's father, mother, uncle and a minor brother also come from the same faith. She had allegedly locked her family members in the house and fled after an argument. The enraged father, accompanied by other family members, came out with a knife in his hand and found Ankit, who lived nearby in west Delhi, on a scooter. A scuffle started.

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According to the police, as the family members held Ankit tightly, the father of the girl slit his throat. All accused have already been arrested, and a case has been filed at the local police station in west Delhi. One hopes that the law will take its course and the aggrieved family will get justice.

What is troubling is that instead of asking for justice certain media and the right wing forces are using the case to bash the entire Muslim community and they are being forced to condemn the gruesome incident. So far only in terror cases guilt by association was raised to target one community, but even though not one person has spoken in support of the murderers, the whole community is being demonised and bashed.

Imagine for a moment that the boy was Muslim and girl a Hindu, the right wing would have justified the incident in the name of a purported case of "love jihad". On the contrary, I have not come across any Muslim on social media justifying the murder; rather they have all expressed shock, some have condemned it and demanded swift action from the police.

It is rather ironical that the same people who are targeting the Muslim community would be asking people to celebrate on February 14, the Valentine's Day, as "Matri Pitri Poojan Diwas", and have called Hadiya a victim of love jihad.

Religion must have played an important role in the decision of Shehzadi's family to not accept their daughter's choice, but it is more of a patriarchal problem than anything else. I have written earlier, how families find any pretext under the sky to reject their children's choice of life partners. Our society at large has still not come to terms with the fact that adult men and women can themselves make a better decision in choosing their life partner, and would rather get them married to people of their choice.

The so-called honour killing is one of most dishonourable things for any society that claims to be civilised, irrespective of religion or creed or caste. Professor Dibyesh Anand of Westminster University rightly pointed out after the incident, "The lethal concept is not a religion but proprietorial-patriarchal-family-honour that afflicts many Hindus, Muslims, and others alike."

Killing a daughter or her partner for defying them is not unique to any one community but is a larger malaise in our part of the world that sadly often has sanctions from religious leaders as well as community formations such as khap panchayats.

Only in January, there was a report of a (Hindu) youth killed in Bihar as he had dared to marry the girl from another caste. And ironically on the same day Ankit was murdered, I saw a gruesome video from Afghanistan, of a woman being savagely flogged for an alleged extramarital affair.

There is a lesson we can all learn from Ankit's father, Yashpal Saxena. He told Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari, who reportedly visited the family, "I do not have hatred against any community. I have no such (communal) thinking."

Also read: India U-19 World Cup winning cricket team should be celebrated, but let's not overdo the hype

Writer

M Reyaz M Reyaz @journalistreyaz

The writer is a journalist who also shares his knowledge with young minds as an assistant professor of media communication at Aliah University, Kolkata.

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