Right now, the state of affairs in India is a cauldron of sectarian passion
I started scrolling up and down facebook when I saw Yogi Adityanath being anointed as the new Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. I wasn’t surprised to see the reaction of the people . One of my girl friend had updated ‘my mother is glad I live in Delhi not in UP’. Another friend had written ‘Not my CM’.
The sweeping victory of BJP bought some interesting reactions around. Article after article was filled with Yogi’s criminal records, his militant organization Hindi Yuva Vahini and his involvement in communal violence. His representation is a direct attack on minorities like Women, LGBT and especially Muslim community. This makes one think that world has come to an interesting turn of events where we have Trump, Modi and Yogi at the helm.
I came across an interesting video of this man where he his justifying his Hindutva ideas by saying that India had been exploited long by Muslims and British. He said that the Pandits were thrown out of their homes in Kashmir and that Hindus have suffered for long. As Romila Thapar, a famous Historian has said; “Communal Histories are extremely selective in choosing facts and deliberating ‘partisian’. It does not follow current methods of analysis using multiple prioritized cause”. Hence the communal elements can put anything into the common memory of the people, who accept it so easily.
Unless a person is well read, this common memory becomes collective history, which is dangerous. I have been living in Delhi for four years now and I have had my share of experiences. There are places where I feel secure hiding my Muslim identity. My face doesn’t easily pass for a Kashmiri which gives me a lot of benefit. But I have seen people running into problems while searching for a house. I have seen people living under strict precautions. Things get worse when this divide is created from the apex of the power pyramid, blaming things on the other communities by creating harsh realities to live in. And in the end no blame is taken by them. These interests will use it as a tool to gain huge benefit for themselves.
People still call ‘idea of India’ as a work in progress. No matter what, the attempts to unify diverse India has failed in the past. At least the idea of Nehruvian secularism was able to keep the large and diverse communities under its umbrella. But Modi’s policies are taking India away from this inclusive creed and bringing in its place the idea of Hindutva (Hindu Nation) or Rama Rajya.
Yogi Adityanath was asked in an interview if he was an Indian first or a Hindu and he explained one cannot be separated from the other. In such a scenario, position of minorities becomes untenable. Kashmiris are part of this dilemma.
Democracy has become complicated. It has become a process of playing on the sentiment of people to mobilize the votes in one direction. Breaking communities is the easiest way to rule them.
British wrote histories of Hindus and Muslims to divide them. Same narratives were picked up by nationalists to justify anti Muslim, Hindu nationalism stories. I had finished the first year of my college when Modi rose to power. Our entire history fraternity was worried about the approach new Government would take. Under the Congress a tradition of revisionist histories had developed unobstructed, Romila Thapar being one of its most prominent face. This goes completely against nationalistic narrative of notional monolithic conflict of Hindu and Muslim communities.
Under these new transformations, the situation in Kashmir has become very complicated.
An Assistant Professor Mr Ashley at St Stephens College posted this question online:
“Question to all those who believe in making India a Hindu Rashtra: suppose every single Muslim, Christian , Sikh Budhist and Atheist is removed by sending out or conversion or murder, would you assure an India without any caste/gender discrimination, a nation without hunger and malnutrition and a world without hatred. If you can’t, your politics is only politics of hatred which only weakens india. If you try achieving it with all these other communities and people of your own religion, who don’t believe in your politics. Fellow Indians are not so bad after all”.
The state of affairs in India right now is a cauldron of sectarian passion. It broadly has two results, one of them being the cold hearted injustice imposed on religious minorities. Since BJP came to power in 2014, many unfortunate events have come to pass which makes one wonder what kind of secularism is India at this point of time: a man was killed because his Hindu neighbors suspected that he had cooked beef in his house. An MLA was beaten in the legislature assembly of Jammu and Kashmir because he had organized a beef party at his house that they did not approve of. Nadur (lotus-stem) eating was sought to be banned because it is the stem of BJP party symbol. This clearly demonstrates that not only do Kashmiri people will have to face injustice outside Kashmir but they are subject to it now right in their backyards. In mindless pursuit of a Hindustan bound tightly by Hindu narratives, India seems set to lose the diversity and plurality it is so known for the world-over.
Author is A History Major from St Stephens College, Delhi University and a Gender Equality Activist