There is a new kind of terror lurking on your neighborhood streets. Nope, it’s not a perpetrator from Pakistan wielding a machine gun and lobbing grenades at you; it’s a group of amateur hooligans with pistols, sticks, and swords in their hands trying to harm you!
Your offense? Either you are a beef-eater or an anti-Hinduism sympathizer or are merely someone from any other religion other than the ‘oh-so-holy’ Hinduism!
Don’t get me wrong! I am a Hindu too – but one who has an open-minded approach on how to practice my faith and not brandish it in the faces of others.
In India, there has been a sudden upheaval of many fringe saffron groups who are fighting for the cause of Hinduism protection – nobody really told them to do it, but they are still doing so. Shocking! What people won’t do to lure vote-banks in their favor and influence young minds for a little money!
Who gave rise to them?
Apparently, the very politicians who you choose to represent you in the government did. Statesmen would rarely do such a stupid thing!
The Indian constitution is for one and all, but these fringe groups resort to physical intimidation to protest against anything from a film, a social comment, a literary release, or anything that their group doesn’t agree with!
Surprisingly, the authorities are always late in taking action against them – the riot happens, cities burn and then, yes then the police comes and arrests them, only to grant them bail after a few months.
Political hooliganism/vandalism is severely punishable under the Indian Penal Code, but since the State machinery often shields such events, the vandals go scot free!
When do such incidents happen? And why?
Simply put, any matter that is politicized beyond an iota of ‘brainy-thought’ becomes a reason for hooliganism in our country! Parties and politicians who are in the ‘saffron’ brigade like RSS and VHP use the power of fringe groups to carry out their dirty work.
Remember the attack against street-side hawkers in Mumbai? The collapse of the century-old and dilapidated Elphinstone Railway station over-bridge and death of many individuals in the stampede suddenly put blame on hawkers that they were the ones overcrowding Mumbai! That’s how the MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) works. They use the idea of ‘Marathi Manus’ as their weapon – local people are supreme and men from Uttar Pradesh or Bihar are scum!
Rohit Vemula’s alleged suicide still makes headlines. It is only because he was allegedly intimidated for being a Dalit. That amounts to culpable homicide, doesn’t it?
Let’s shift to the youth of the country. Remember JNU? Remember the arrests of Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and their peers in the name of nationalism? This one was politically-motivated too! Radical-minded separatists dance around in Jammu and Kashmir, but a few students are arrested for voicing a mere opinion (the video was later alleged to be doctored). Is that how fragile this country has become?
Another example, cow vigilantism! Numerous incidents across the country have been noticed where people are being killed, yes killed for eating beef! How can someone oppose someone’s choice of food? What if I take offense to someone eating costly pizzas when half of the nation survives on substandard food? Will I go around pelting stones at the outlets of Dominoes Pizza or Pizza Hut? Probably not! There are many other ways to bring out social change, and violence is the worst, yes WORST way to bring that change. Where has violence worked for the greater good in this world? Give an example!
There is also the concept of Love Jihad! Countless Muslims have been targeted over years for marrying someone they love. What is the fault if two religions coincide? There are inter-caste marriages too! Then, why attack Muslims?
Why doesn’t hooliganism get punished under section 144?
The law is not enough! If politicians do not stop inciting and encouraging mindless violence, more people will get affected by this forced-vigilantism! Don’t tell me to watch a movie where simply removing an ‘i’ from the name of a movie (Padmavat) made everything normal. What about the mass Jauhar the Karni Sena women had promised? I don’t see any reports in the media about Karni Sena now!
The Rampal baba and Ram Rahim mob violence are classic examples of the authorities swatting flies when lakhs of vandals were terrorizing the country! That is not the India our freedom fighters laid their life for!
People have to start detesting political parties that play second fiddle to hooliganism! Elect educated politicians for a change (someone who has a clean record and no criminal background). If you elect someone based on your culture that is where the dividing line between education and culture ruptures! The massive aftershock that develops into a quake that can spark a civil war in the entire country!
The role of the media
Media has played a massive role in this context! Vandalism and hooliganism are concepts that have been spread via newspapers, television, and social media! Media gets so carried away in reporting incidents that they forget that they are also awakening demons within you – it doesn’t take much longer to feel sympathetic towards people who are similar to you in religious identity!
Without assessing facts, we jump to conclusions that political violence like strife during industrial strikes, communal riots, etc. are a fight between good and bad – nope! It’s a mere socio-political feature that politicians use to keep things under the belt!
What can you do? Can you stop this filibustering of the streets?
You as a citizen must act! If you still despise someone for being a Dalit or a tribal, you are the scum of this country! Political parties play vote bank politics on these very issues and if you do not ridicule politicians over these mindless societal divisions, who will?
If we do not help each other grow, we are doomed. You can yourself be the social reformer you always look for in that politician you elect!
Your liberty can be snatched away from you unless we all collectively fight (peacefully) to protect our equality and freedom. The day you get the brains to understand that parochialism in religion or politics will doom this country you will become someone who works in the interest of the nation. Hitler fell, didn’t he? In the same way, hooligans who wield religion as an excuse to plunder can be uprooted from this nation too!