Hollow claims of civility

I come from a North-east state, Manipur. We claim that, we are the most loving, welcoming, dedicated, kind and, of course, tolerant folk.

Incidents like lynching of Mohammad Hasmat Ali, witnessed recently in Manipur and now the brutal assault on six Muslim school boys during Holi expose the hypocrisy of our moral claims. These experiences have terrified the minorities and brought out the hollowness of tall claims. This tyranny of majority forces the minorities to conform to customs, beliefs, opinions and attitudes of the majority.This is working successfully and the conformity could be  seen in the resounding silence of minorities leaders. This happens because Manipur wants to be seen as being a highly tolerant and viable state. Otherwise it would be seen as a menace to mainland India.

Leaving the mask of politeness aside, I would love you to hear the silenced voices of the oppressed. Though I alone cannot represent the silenced minorities, I can be one of those voices of non-conformity that fear suppression under the beautiful label of tolerance.  Let no one die under the perfect-looking picture behind which goes the deprivation of dignity of life. We must resist being silenced, and speak up. This message goes to all those on mighty thrones swirling with folded hands. Tyranny has to be removed. Ideas of freedom of life and right to dignity and freedom of speech must prevail. The right to dissent and the right to be different from powerful groups must be respected.

Aasima Banu Sheikh

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 May 2016 on page no. 2

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