Hardly surprising minorities are scared for their lives in India

Kamal Mitra Chenoy
Kamal Mitra ChenoyOct 18, 2016 | 17:01

Hardly surprising minorities are scared for their lives in India

Why are the minorities scared in India?

To begin with many were scared well before 2014, when the Modi wave brought the RSS-led BJP in as head of the NDA coalition. After all, from the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in December 1992, and the terrible communal riots that followed in Mumbai, to the Gujarat riots in 2002 with about 1,000 dead, mainly Muslims, with little justice to follow when Narendra Modi was the chief minister, the minorities have been terrorised.


Still with the Congress in decline, losing its activism in party and government politics, the BJP inched its way up, recruiting opportunist politicians, wooing the corporate sector that then PM PV Narasimha Rao and then finance minister Dr Manmohan Singh had unleashed, removing major controls including industrial licensing in the Congress government in 1991. What the then Congress PM and FM had envisaged as stabilising the Congress for long term rule, did not turn out that way.

Of course, the Congress didn't do the minorities many favours. The Justice Srikrishna report on the December 1992-January 1993 Mumbai riots was left unused on the shelf, and the butchers of Muslims were not punished. The same happened in Surat and elsewhere. The reason for riots was hyper-religious Hindutva. The demolition of the Babri Masjid was to build the Ram temple, as if Lord Ram had an accommodation problem.

Yet, for all the hype and killing, the Ram temple has not yet been built since 1992.

But, this is the way the RSS works. Since the misnamed Babri Masjid was a hated monument as it was named after Babar, though the monarch never came to Ayodhya, it served the Sangh Parivar's purpose. Of course, the PV Narasimha Rao-led Congress government allowed the demolition to happen, standing by when the old mosque's protective fortifications were dismantled by the then BJP CM Kalyan Singh's government, the level of the ground was raised by some two metres under the pretext of creating the Ram Katha Kunj, further neutralising the fortifications of the Babri Masjid, and the central paramilitary force dispatched to Ayodhya to protect the Masjid was not given permission to fire at rioters.


While the Congress occasionally incited communal violence, it was never consistently communal but in the post-Indira Gandhi period, tended to be weakly secular when under communal pressure. But compared to the Congress, the RSS/VHP are really dangerous, and have become a real and present threat when in power.

Shortly after the NDA came to power, a minister of state in the Union Ministry, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, led a rally shouting the slogan that the Indian population was divided into "Ramzadas" and "Haramzadas." The haramzadas were, of course, the minorities, especially the Muslims.

Indian minorities are being killed from Dadri to Udhampur on false and specious grounds. [Photo: Reuters]

Later, the beef issue was taken up in a big way. In Dadri, Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched for allegedly eating beef. The Samajwadi Party (SP) hedged its bets. After some time it shifted gears, and accepted a second forensic report that indeed it was beef in the Akhlaq's house. What was absent in this discussion and communal activity was the Constitutional position on cow slaughter. In Article 48 of the Directive Principles which are not binding, there is no religious reason stated at any stage to ban cow slaughter.

Article 48 opposed cow slaughter as well as the killing of all "milch" and "draught" cattle which included buffalos, mithuns, yaks, etc on the ground that this was necessary to preserve and promote the breeds. But this is just the opposite of what the so-called "gau rakshaks" are doing. They are certainly not improving the breeds of cattle. Nor is the Union government doing very much about radically improving the breeds of cows, buffalos, etc. There is no scientific widespread programme throughout the country despite Article 48. So the holy cow is no different than the buffalo and other milch and draught cattle.


But minorities are being killed from Dadri to Udhampur on false and specious grounds. Unfortunately, the Congress has not clarified the Constitutional position and has instead banned cow slaughter in the states it was in power, a total of around 25 all over the country.

Thus the minorities have an uphill struggle when the communal fires are hot, and the secular forces are afraid from angering the majority. But what majority? The Hindus, almost 80 per cent, are divided on the basis of caste, gender, region, politics and sect. The politics of the Sangh is to weld the Hindus into one bloc.

They are unrelenting in their endeavours to weaken secular parties like the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). AAP which has been consistently secular has now some 15 MLAs - out of a Delhi Assembly with 70 MLAs - in jail, under the lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung's total control over the Delhi Police. These trends are likely to increase.

The secular forces seek to push moral values, like brotherhood, amity, nationalism, and non-violence. But the result will depend on the resolve and creativity as well as political acumen. This is no time to be optimistic but to organise the secular forces and ideologies. Even now is late.

Watch: Family of martyr Sudees Kumar speaks out as nation pays tribute

Last updated: October 18, 2016 | 17:01
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