Opinions

Ayodhya fear!

When humane values are given great importance in any society, fear along any line, particularly religious, is not expected to prevail. Sadly, it still does in practically all parts of the world, including India. What is this suggestive of? No, it would be erroneous to question values being promoted by any religion. Rather, it would be more appropriate to consider the degree to which "values" are exploited and/or misused in the name of religion by persons, parties and/or groups to promote irreligious and negative trends. From no angle, can communal incidents, including cow-lynching cases, be viewed as humane and religious. But, certainly, "religious" label is added to these. Why?

Religious legitimacy to lynching is impossible.

Considering that majority of Indians are quite religious, given to indulging in numerous "religious" practices, there prevails the belief that adding a "religious" touch to even inhumane activities will add "religious legitimacy" to them in the minds of the general public. Well, what does this suggest? Several interpretations can be drawn from this. One is, several extremist elements apparently appear to be extremely over-confident about the "success" of their communal agenda. At the same time, slowly but definitely, this confidence seems to be on the decline. This is marked by some saffron brigade’s representatives’ attempt to try and add "secular" touch to their image. Also, the opposition voiced against communal incidents in recent past cannot be ignored.

Besides, though communal incidents, such as lynching in the name of cow and assassination of secular persons voicing their stand against them, have occurred in present phase, a strong truth stands out. Neither succeeded in provoking any communal crisis throughout the nation. Communal elements are probably not oblivious of this reality. True, criminals in all cases have not been accorded punishment nor have the victims and/or their relatives given compensation. Also, the role played by officers on duty in uniform, apparently aiding communal elements, cannot be missed. Yet, the negative publicity earned by these incidents stands out quite markedly. Undeniably, there has been "news" about attempts being made to "control" and/or "silence" the media so that only "favourable" coverage is accorded to people in power and the saffron brigade allied to them. But even this strategy has not succeeded totally.

Rather, substantial coverage, that too along negative lines, has been accorded to these communal incidents and also officers allegedly held responsible for aiding/encouraging as well as participating in the same. If media and other means of communication had been silenced totally, India would not have witnessed their coverage, criticism as well as protest demonstrations against the same. Besides, one hasn’t heard of any report about support expressed by public in general regarding communal incidents including the lynching cases. The preceding point needs to be noted specifically as this is another indicator of communal rioting in the age of today not being really favoured by Indian society.

Of course, this does not mean that each and every Indian can be viewed as secular down to the core. Prevalence of discriminatory practises on the bases of caste, class and religion is hardly suggestive of this. Also, there have been cases of individuals being targeted by their own family members because of inter-caste, inter-religious marriages and so on and so forth. But these cases have been reported. True, there may be quite a few similar cases, which have not received similar and/or any coverage at all. However, the difference between being communal in mentality and in practice needs to be considered. Similarly, opposition to inter-caste, inter-religion and similar marriages rests more on conservatism, communal mentality, the question of family honour and other such factors. From no angle can communal attitude of these kind be viewed the same as that is practised in inter-religious riots, lynching cases and so forth. Also, though many persons may be accused of holding a communal attitude towards other religious, castes and other groups, this does not mean that they are also in favour of communal violence against them. If this was the case, each communal incident would have provoked many more. Gujarat-carnage would not have remained primarily limited to that state only.

Right-winged, extremist elements have apparently become quite conscious of this reality. Though communal attitude still prevails, the majority are not willing to easily step onto the path of communal frenzy, aggression, violence and so forth. Paradoxically, fear prevails that now legal proceedings regarding Ayodhya-issue are going to soon begin at the apex court, it may lead to communal tension. Undeniably, with assembly and parliamentary elections round the corner, attempts are going to be made to add as much communal fire to the issue as possible. It is not just the case of a civil dispute as many view it as a religious issue. Well, around 30 years have passed since this religious issue had provoked nation-wide riots. Sadly, fear prevails that it may again. Fear is likely to remain confined to discussions, debates and media. The majority may be expected to view this as nothing but another electoral strategy, without any political and/or religious legitimacy!

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