Bulandshahr violence shows the genie of communalism is finally out of the bottle

If you feed extremism – in thoughts, ideas and actions – it will eventually feed on you.

 |  3-minute read |   08-12-2018
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Elections in India are usually fought on emotive issues. Only when these issues are relevant and emotive do they end up becoming electoral trump cards. "Riding a Tiger" definitely needs courage. Desperate courage. However, political history is not exactly replete with examples of it having done anyone any good. On the contrary, it has caused much self-harm and heartbreak. Thanks to the political outlook of its ruling class, now Uttar Pradesh may be heading in that direction.

That a simple rumour of cow meat being found in jungles bordering Bulandshahr leading to such fury being unleashed is anything but normal. It is just a precursor to the impending implosion. Nobody bothered to verify, cross-check. Nobody waited for the law to act. In a short hour, a violent, armed mob organised, and an on-duty police officer was shot dead in broad daylight. A bystander died too. Hopefully, the inquiry will answer the questions.

subodh-inside_120718_120818030119.jpgThe mob's fury led to an on-duty police officer getting shot dead in broad daylight. (Photo: PTI)

What led to the simmering anger boiling over is not far to seek. Off late, the political discourse has gone coarse, to say the least. Consistently, a them versus us picture has been painted, a wedge has been driven between communities. A part of what can happen when such utterances stem from those in power showed itself in Bulandshahr.

The public displayed no faith in the pro-right, pro-Hindu, Yogi Adityanath government or its administration. A beef rumour led to massive mobilisation against the police-administration, law and government. Either that or the incident has a more sinister underbelly. Either way, it does not augur well for the society.

If you feed extremism – in thoughts, ideas and actions – it will eventually feed on you. Segregation along religious lines can be politically profitable for a while, but there is a price to pay. Bulandshahr is a small window of what could happen. Is the human, societal and ethical cost of deep segregation defendable in a multi-cultural society? We need to answer it. With the general elections approaching, it is anybody's guess that such flashpoints would only be more frequent.

buland1-copy_120818030208.jpgThe fury unleashed in Bulandshah was anything but normal. (Photo: PTI)

Hardliners will always pose a risk for democracies. The warning signs were there for all to see. Intolerance indicators were all very visible – on both sides. Yet no attempts at mollification were made. The demon of hate, distrust and intolerance got stronger. So strong, that today it refuses to listen to the masters.

Frankenstein – anyone? If someone really did abandon cow carcasses in the open, at least the Yogi government would come down hard on them – it is part of the government's stated policy. But the mob did not relent. The pent-up anger, the frustration does not need a trigger anymore. It just needs an excuse. It does not have any specific targets. A simple mischievous rumour on social media platform unleashes murderous rage.

Is the genie finally out of the bottle?

Also Read: Bulandshahar violence: Who will now take the responsibility of inspector Subodh Kumar Singh's death


Arindam De Arindam De @arindamde01

The writer is journalist working with India Today.

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