Those offended by calls for 'Khalistan' should also not tolerate idea of 'Hindu Rashtra'
Justin Trudeau's visit is an occasion to step back and reflect solemnly on what's going on internally to demolish the foundations of secular India.
- Total Shares
Now that the dust is settling over what was an avoidable controversy during Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's state visit to India, let's discuss the idea of a new theocratic state.
Videos have surfaced widely on WhatsApp showing hardline Hindu leaders espousing a Hindu Rashtra over an India committed to a secular constitution.
Outrage by a tiny part of 4.5 million-5 million Sikhs living in Canada disturbed us so much so that a chief minister had to term them a "primary issue" with a country that people from his state are moving to in their hordes.
But how come audacious public statements by a breed of lawmakers to throw Muslims out to Pakistan and Bangladesh draw no ire from decision-makers?
Why thugs pulling out cattle transporters from their vans and beating them to death not charged with terror?
On the contrary, we see elected leaders in responsible government positions standing solidly beside anti-Muslim attackers.
Killings and assaults for any fanatic cause - be it by maddened mobs wielding clubs or by individuals using firearms and bombs, be it over cows, temples, gurdwaras or mosques - are cold-blooded terror and nothing else.
Still, a large section of power-brokers have conveniently built a deep chasm between the two forms of terror.
Sporadic - but apparently strategic - attacks on members on the country's minorities, many of them fatal, are either glossed over or are criminally supported with impunity.
I spoke with a number of Canadians accompanying Trudeau during an evening reception. In what was a frank conversation, most of them told me that the so-called Khalistanis don't even number 400 in their country.
Their activities are mostly limited to gurdwaras, posters and slogans, but they get the publicity they want in Indian media.
I staunchly oppose the idea of a theocratic state carved out of India. I am not sure when the Khalistan issue crept in during the 15-year-long unrest in Punjab from the late 1970s to the 1990s.
But during a period when no private TV or digital media existed, the print press latched onto the term so wildly that vested interests turned the bloody guerrilla movement in the state into secessionist trouble.
Officially, the so-called Khalistani separatism was crushed with an iron fist in the early 1990s.
No one achieved anything out of it. But losses from what began as politics of confrontation and ended with thousands of deaths were momentous.
Punjab moved on and so did the Sikhs. Many of them immigrated to Europe the US, Canada and Australia. Many of the diasporic Sikhs are now highly successful entrepreneurs, lawyers, professionals and leading political figures in those parts of the world.
Remember, they have now been succeeded by their second or even third generations. But somehow, the Khalistani nuisance crops up occasionally.
On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his address, while standing beside Trudeau, with a reference to secessionism and terror.
Our PM reiterated India's zero-tolerance towards separatism. A strong message indeed to the fringe using foreign soil for anti-India propaganda. Modi's brief speech deserves an applause on that count.
Ideally, this should also mean anyone attempting to dilute, tamper or destroy India's core constitutional structure will be dealt with similarly, no matter what their location, population size, religion or caste.
But that, unfortunately, is not happening. Rather, our great civilization's present political climate paints a diametrically opposite and discriminatory picture.
How can a lawmaker is still allowed to hold office for his obnoxious calls to expel the Muslims?
How can Hindu hardliners presiding over the Hindu Rashtra ideology get away for their taped pledge to convert the country's secular constitution into theocratic?
How can lynch mobs - from 1984 to 2018 - be downplayed as random rioters for what in reality is terror they unleash on the weak, the elderly and unarmed civilians?
We could hear the empty Khalistani rhetoric of the few hundreds from as far as Canada and snub a state guest - a prime minister of a NATO-member nation - but why do we turn blind and deaf to forces working 24x7 within to tear our country apart.
Pushing a Canadian prime minister to the defensive isn't really a matter of chest thumping. It's an occasion to step back and reflect solemnly on what's going on internally to demolish the foundations of secular India.