It is happening. Not just beginning to happen, but happening..
A sleeping fifty-year old man and his frighened and wide-awake family were lynched by a mob of a hundred people for a ‘crime’ they had not committed. Slaughtering a cow, storing and eating its meat.
The man, Mohammed Akhlaq, was lynched on the spot. His badly injured son is possibly dying in a hospital bed.
It happened in Dadri, an urban village where several government headquarters are housed in a district named after Gautam Buddh, the Enlightened One who preached non-violence and compassion for all.
Someone in the nearby temple had done the sacred duty of announcing over loudspeakers that Mohammad Akhlaq was storing and eating beef. All places of worship – temples and mosques in particular – that accuse technology of moral corruption have loudspeakers set at full volume. A shopkeeper nearby had heard the announcement. It is not known whether it excited him enough to pick up a pickaxe or sword. But he sensed that trouble was on its way.
“Whose blood won’t boil if they see cow slaughter?” asked the local Vice President of Prime Minister Modi’s party.
Even assuming that eating beef is a terrible crime – never mind that a central minister, a Buddhist from the same party, announced that nobody is going to stop him from eating beef which is his favourite food – Mohammad. Akhlaq and his family, the only Muslims among a whole village of Hindus, had not committed that crime. A forensic examination of the meat that was stored in Akhlaq family’s refrigerator was found to be not beef, but mutton. Goats also give milk – Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite drink and supposed to be more nutritious than cows’ milk. Nonetheless, goats don’t enjoy the sacred status of one’s mother. (Six months later, a belated new forensic report conveniently found cow genes in the meat).
Blood indeed boiled when they heard that a neighbour had eaten beef; blood boiled even more when they found that five or six men who were among the lynchers were arrested.
There were riots, arson and the regulation burning of vehicles. Trust me, nobody is going to hang, not even get a life term, for killing a citizen of this Country in cold blood in his sleep. Mob lynching is becoming routine under the new dispensation. If the crime could be established, which is difficult with the police on the side of the lynchers, those who were arrested as a public performance will be acquitted by the court. With that assurance in their mind, vigilantes roam the streets, do shift-duty during nights, to stop and accuse truckers of carrying beef and beat them up – or kill them.
Nobody, certainly not Mr. Modi, condemned the killing of an innocent man. Mr. Modi is in the habit of condemning killings abroad – like that of a Jordanian pilot, bomb blasts in a Hindu Temple in faraway Bangkok, Karachi killings, killing of two Japanese citizens by IS in even more distant Iraq.
The Union minister of culture, Mahesh Sharma, said that the killing was an accident – one must not give it a communal colour. The only Muslim family living in the entire area was lynched, and its bread winner was killed in his sleep, the next ln line is badly – probably fatally – injured. Nothing communal – that is the word for religious hatred in India – about it, says who? The minister of culture. That is what the culture is in the new dispensation. Mr. Sharma a year later demanded that foreign ladies visiting India must avoid wearing skirts. I suspect the Sheikhs of Saudi Arabia and the Bukharis are turning green with envy at the Islamisation of Hinduism by the Hindu right-wing government,
Riots and mutual murders between various religious affiliations have been rampant in India since independence, the worst of which followed partition of British India into Islamic Pakistan and supposedly secular India. Hindus, who are some six times more than Muslims in India face fewer deaths while Muslims take a larger toll. In Bangladesh, where such riots are less frequent but perhaps more violent when they happen, it’s the other way round- only Hindus are lynched. In Pakistan, the miniscule number of Hindus lives in hiding – hiding in ambiguous surnames, or hiding with the help of the rare but kindly Muslim neighbours. There Christians take a bigger toll. To be fair, there are thousands of cases where Hindus in India helped their Muslim neighbours escape lynching , and vice versa in Pakistan. Even in Dadri, the news reports suggest, some Hindu neighbours tried to prevent the killers.
In the run-up to the Central elections in 2013, where Modi and his BJP looked poised to be certain winners, xenophobia got worse, religious bigotry grew stronger. Hindu living ‘sages’, male and female (Sadhus and Sadhvis) demanded that all those who did not like the coming of the new dispensation and opposed Modi should be shunted to Pakistan. A junior minister in Modi cabinet – who is also a female sage – proclaimed in an election campaign that there were only two kinds of voters in Delhi – Ramzadas and Haramzadas (Hindu god Ram’s sons – or bastards). Those who voted for Modi’s party are Ram’s sons, and those who didn’t were bastards was the gist. The ploy didn’t work quite as expected. Modi’s party lost disgracefully and are still working on their vendetta.
,A minister from Goa – a small state where there is a large and thriving Catholic community – announced that India would become a Hindu nation under Modi. Mr. Modi did not deny the assertion; his distant second- or may be third or fourth and one of the few genuine graduates in the Cabinet – Arun Jaitley said one should only listen to mainstream leaders. To him, for the time being, a minister of the party in the state cabinet did not belong to the mainstream.
There were more than 690 riots in 2013 during the run-up to the elections and 560 in 2014 till October during and after the elections. The riots and carnage that happened thereafter are still counting. Modi’s party rightly seemed to believe that a riot at the expense of Muslims would augment better tally from Hindu voters. Modi himself became the Prime Minister of the Country not in spite of his 2002 record of carnage in his home State, but because of it – the same way as Rajiv Gandhi won with a much greater majority after the Sikh (and sickening) genocide in 1984. Mohammad Akhlaq is just one among the hundreds and not the last of those who lost their lives to the new vision of “true secularism” otherwise named Hindutwa.
Nobody’s blood boiled when Akhlaq died. If the hearts of his family were broken, and their future lives are in danger of being extinguished in another riot, that is not sizzling enough to boil anyone’s blood. Not even the blood of Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, a Shia Muslim, who intoned earlier that those who wanted to eat beef should go to Pakistan.
While fifty-year old and sleeping Mohammad Akhlaq was being beaten with bricks and stabbed with knives to death, sixty-five-year old Narendra Modi was basking in the glory of adulation of expatriate Indians in America, in the posture of Lord Krishna among Gopis, playing his flute. Overwhelmed by the enthusiastic reception, he boasted that he was the greatest leader from India who ever received such adulation. Short of memory and strangers to independent India’s history, the crowd roared its approval.
James Frederick Ivey, in his proselytizing work “The Physics and Philosophy of the Bible” found fault that Hinduism was too tolerant of all other religions. Ivey is behind times. Most Hindus are indeed tolerant. Some intolerance always existed since late nineteen-twenties, there were RSS Shakhas parading and drilling in many corners of the Country, singing “Hindustan is for Hindus, that’s our brave resolution”. There is a renewed upsurge in that spirit. In the picture alongside, fourteen-year-old Chinmayee with that innocent baby face chants Hindustan is for Hindus, Pakistan can go to hell” while on a RSS parade. She, like the children behind her, has been indoctrinated and armed – albeit with ancient rifles just like the Taliban kids in Pakistan and Afghanistan. One mustn’t take it to be child’s play. The girl who went up to Rajiv Gandhi with a bomb tucked inside her clothes and blew herself up along with Rajiv Gandhi was only slightly older than Chinmayee.
In Bangalore, the alleged Silicon City of India, a few weeks before the Dadri carnage, a young man was pulled out of his car and cruelly beaten up by a mob of Ram Sene, a militant sect that volunteers as Hindu moral police in the State. The young Muslim’s crime was sitting with a Hindu girl in the same car. What if all Hindu youngsters were pulled out and lynched in the real Silicon Valley for sitting with Christian girls? What would happen if the the Muslim UAE and Christian-majority Europe and Americas (who are mostly done with their version of lynching since last century) were to pull out Hindu Indians out of their cars and lynch them? When you are in communal frenzy such thoughts don’t occur to you.
India has many gods and goddesses. There is Saraswati, the beautiful, Veena-playing goddess of knowledge and education, shown voluptuously busty in temple statues, but coy, beautiful and modestly sari-clad in cheap prints of Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings from the 1930s.
There is also Lakshmi, equally sexy and beautiful and busty in bronze statues you find in temples. She is the goddess of prosperity and wealth., What is more popular, however, is the coy, pretty and sari-clad version of the goddess in Ravi Varma prints of Lakshmi you see on calendars. Those are lovely symbolic images that represent ancient Hindus’ love of knowledge and hope for prosperity.
There is also a goddess of hatred, anger and frenzy. A goddess who would trample on her own father and nearly destroy him in a fit of wanton temper. Her name is Kali, She is normally kind, merciful and tolerant. At the sight of a demon – probably a Dravidian resisting Aryan invasion on his life and culture – she goes into a fit of rage and charges, destroying everything in her wake. She magically discards her sari and drapes herself in dozens of severed human hands strung around her naked hips and a garland of human skulls over her bare breasts. In her hand, like that of David from the Bible, is the severed head of her enemy, dripping blood. Her tongue is out, thirsting for more blood.
In India, the easily belligerent Muslim has his eye-for-an-eye, man-for-a-man, slave-for-a-slave and woman-for-a-woman Quranic teaching in the back of his mind. He nonetheless cringes at the prospect of a riot. He is too few in number to openly fight back – though he tries often enough. To mollify the apparent enemy, some sing paeans of Modi; some promise to vote for Modi’s party. Though habitually carnivorous but too poor to buy goat meat, he reconciles to his fate of having to avoid beef in the States where a long-forgotten ban is being revived and spitefully enforced. He doesn’t dare ask how it is that cow is your mother because it gives you milk, but the farm hen who gives you more nutritious eggs is not your aunt. He knows that India under Modi and his party of Hindu zealots is poised to trample like Kali.
Mohammad Aklaq is not the first victim of that Kalibanization. This Kali is already trampling on the memory of Gandhi and abusing the man of peace in editorials, Twitter and Facebook; his assassin Nathuram Godse is being elevated as a martyr. Modi goes all the way to Ireland to make fun of secularists back home in his Country. A disgraced-and-retired army chief, now a minor minister, coined the term sickular to replace secular. The coinage has stuck.
Akhlaq won’t be the last victim of this frenzy If Kali does not soon discard the skulls and severed human hands and goes back to peaceful sari. If Kalibanization persists, I fear for my Country.
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