Predator as prey: Hindutva idea of eliminating the ‘other’–II

Shafeeq R. Mahajir

The first part of this column was published on November 16 under the same headline.  This is the second and final part of that article.

Wait. More bias coming. He says, “No one would write about how the violence started, when a train full of Hindu pilgrims was put on fire by a Muslim mob with men, women and children burned to death… That was no story.” Not a Muslim mob. A mob. That was in fact a story, preceded by another. Face facts: what triggered violence was parading of dead bodies, with the “permission” of the State, psyching up mobs to crazed levels seeking “vengeance from Muslims” on a premise: viola! no evidence needed: since the dead were Hindus, those responsible must be Muslims! How are dead bodies of “other” victims (recall recent rape-burning, UP) treated by the State administration? Immediate burial or cremation, no time given, hurried last rites if at all, family told “or else”… So what triggered the violence, is one part. The other is the mobs (note, I did not use the convenient descriptor Hindu) going around with maps identifying homes and shops by religious identity. Difficult to organise in hours, so, organised earlier, why, by whom, mobs led by whom, role of political figures… He does not mention these. Inconvenient. 

While working in the camps in Gujarat, writes he, children showed pictures of how their homes were burnt… he omits to say which camps, which children, and why they were all from “the other” denomination. He ignores relief camps were shut down, privately run relief camps forcibly closed… and some walls later hid something.

Who would want to hide something?

About the book Delhi Riots, projected as fact-finding, Quint “found that far from being based on a “fact-finding mission” it is (you read it yourself) :

It is only malleable distorted-history-fed people indoctrinated in fanatic historical distortions, who can raise goli maaro.. slogans. Dejected at hollow lives, insulated from real religious and syncretic cultural teaching, staring at life empty of meaning, full of the “no-college-full-knowledge” ideological divide between “us” and “to-be-hated” ephemeral “invaders”, empowering option for aimless drifters is to join some movement however misguided for some “cause” in service of an aggressive politically ascendant avatar of a benevolent god-figure, shouting slogans against an imagined enemy to feel self-worth. Suddenly, even a societal discard is somebody, basks in reflected “glory” that comes from association with an establishment furthering the agenda he quickly buys into. Behold! Centuries of “appeasement”, perhaps meaning anger at being conquered and ruled, can be channelised and the past avenged. Enemy: Babur ki aulaadRam-zaade and the other variety, all born here.  Like many others, the writer uses verbosity promoting a false narrative, peddling a subterranean, corrosive narrative harming the nation.

Artificially empowered, drifting elements are artfully recruited, indoctrinated in hatred of “subjugators”… and eventually physical attacks on those who share the religion, follow. It’s easier to attack hated “others” who are not from among “us”: revenge empowers. And enables escape from reality of misgovernance et al.

He refers to “the enemy in front” and adds “the police, leader of the country, everyone who doesn’t belong to their way of thinking”.  The police is not the enemy, the canard he insidiously attempts to plant and promote: where after attacks on them if denied-State-protection-Muslims try to respond, but the police demonstrates bias, that conflict engulfs that force. Where the forces have stayed neutral, they have always earned praise. Muslims do not train in drills using lathis, swords, and air guns, nor combat-train with mock bayonets. Leaders are not partial, do not ignore constitutional mandates nor ignore events shaming the nation.

Those who shout slogans do not do so against a Prime Minister: they do it against politicians appropriating or seen as representing a culture of hate, of exclusion, of ghettoization, a whole agenda opposing inclusive co-existence, a way of thinking the writer has at inception revealed: the “us” and “them” mentality. There is no place for discussion or dialogue anymore: just aggressive hate-filled slogans from political podia, never acted against by law enforcement agencies: after all, it is against the “other”. What they will grow up to be, is clear: immune from prosecution, insulated from the law, vigilantes-at-large, aiming for complete annihilation of a collective other. Will anyone claim this is good for India? Then why is it allowed, and by whom?

He quotes ‘jihad’, its connotations lost on him [Gita: “Considering your duty as a warrior you should not waver for there is nothing more auspicious for a warrior than a righteous war. (2.31) Only the fortunate warriors, O Arjuna, get such an opportunity for an unsought war that is like an open door to heaven. (2.32)”]. “Why don’t we see Hindus, Christians or Buddhist children ever doing that?” asks our hero. Oh they do, boy: consider umpteen regimes toppled via war by the Christian West, the Rohingya in Buddhist Myanmar… Maybe he should read more. Blindsiding oneself is a sure-shot way to peddle fantasy riding on acclaim.

Mass movement by Hindus is misnomer: it is not a Hindu but a political movement wearing camouflage, for no Hindu or Muslim will obstruct or assault others’ rights: this emergent posturing aims to destroy a ‘present’ where the irrelevant see political opportunity, projecting history as distortion, distortion as research, predator pretending to be prey.

He claims Hindu contempt arises “from being at the receiving end”. Oh good grief! From 1947, it has been Muslims who have been systematically side-lined, subjected to systemic denials of justice, inexorably intensifying till we have areas where all can enter “except dogs and Muslims”. Elsewhere, if Muslim you need to be lucky to buy or rent a flat. There is even “contempt” for “the other”!  No chance for inclusiveness, demands to join the mainstream.

Contrary to what the writer suggests, majoritarianism tries to invert history, embellishing a past it perceives as humiliating, concocting civilizational battles where “we” are the to-be-vanquishers of alleged persecutors of centuries past, Don Quixote aiming at imagined adversaries. Fed the line that once he annihilates that “other”, it will restore his power snatched away from him centuries ago, Shaheen Bagh exemplifying peaceful exercise of Constitutional rights in protest, negating everything he has been fed about that other, leaves him confused, unable to understand… and so he attacks it.

He carries “painful reminder of a memory that is not over”… for whom? For those who speak of what Babar did, never mind how many centuries ago, who speak of the Babri demolition being “first of many”… have “the other” in their cross-hairs. When will this memory be “over”: after “adequate revenge” has been exacted, and all Muslims dead?!

The image of a woman in hijab, is for his type, anathema, triggers pontification of subjugation, oppression, denial of human rights…and demands denial of the right to wear what Muslim women might want. He refers to things “being silently borne by the so-called intolerant Hindu”: the person who cannot tolerate that Muslim women wear hijab? He ignores the fact that it is only the “Political Hindu” that is intolerant, the variety that seeks to monitor conscience, legislates to prevent religious conversion.

What women of Kashmir were allegedly told thirty years ago, may be nothing compared to what “other” women there presently undergo, but he is not interested. He asks, “What is the message that Shaheen Bagh will leave for the future generation? and enthrals us with his prejudice: his unstated hope “that a significant number of Muslims of India would not like to live in India”: so the message is loud and clear: “others” to “get out!”

He wants his type to “assert their distinctiveness, reclaim their pride, their uniqueness and feel the wholeness that a slave feels again after his slavery is over” actually meaning “give expression to their aggression, drive the ‘invaders’ out, feel powerful, become violently assertive… anathema to civilised thinking, shaking off fetters of conscience and truth, warped minds trampling facts, peddling distortions.

Again the covert message resounds: craving projection as alleged slave, his “other” is the hallucinatory master co-vigilantes must avenge themselves on; as long as imagined illusory “masters” are visible, infected minds will think slavery. For their mental slavery to end, to feel whole, they must cease to see “the other”, who represents “our” subjugation. Ceasing to see “the other” means that “other” must be got rid of!  CAA…NRC… Well, well, well!

“After centuries of slavery, the Hindu seems to be on a path to renewal and resurgence of his identity”, writes this hero. Aha! so it is that ‘slavery’ and that ‘memory’ which fuel his lopsided analysis!  We got freedom from the British, but some among us still think they are slaves: but whose?!  It is their alleged memory that enslaves, the reality of their condition found not in fact but in their minds. He chooses life founded on limiting, debilitating memory fuelling thoughts of vengeance, over forward-looking life based on potential.  If talk of Muslims’ experiences last 70 years is unacceptable, while Hindus nurturing a “collective memory” of 400 years past, is perfectly acceptable, then this analyst… needs an analyst.

There is no “mirage of immortality” in Abrahamic civilizations : the soul is immortal: read the Gita 2:20 : न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचि    नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूय: अजो नित्य: शाश्वतोऽयं पुराणो    न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे   na jāyate mriyate vā kadāchin  nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ  ajo nityaḥ śhāśhvato ’yaṁ purāṇo  na hanyate hanyamāne śharīre : “The soul is neither born, nor does it ever die; nor having once existed, does it ever cease to be. The soul is without birth, eternal, immortal, and ageless. It is not destroyed when the body is destroyed.”  No mirage, friend. Fact, taught by Hinduism as well.

Heaven and Hell are fact. The expressions स्वर्ग and नरक are not “Abrahamic” concepts, but inconvenient detail does not trouble him.  Does he suspect his soul suffers from impermanence? He should know, “Dust thou art, and to dust returnest, Was ne’er spoken of the Soul.”  The Hereafter, friend, is never-ending. Till then, distort as much as you want to.

The facts remain. Mundaka Upanishad : सत्यमेव जयते नानृतं   सत्येन पन्था विततो देवयानः  येनाक्रमन्त्यृषयो ह्याप्तकामा   यत्र तत् सत्यस्य परमं निधानम्     satyameva jayate nānṛtaṁ    satyena panthā vitato devayānaḥ   yenākramantyṛṣayo hyāptakāmā    yatra tat satyasya paramaṁ nidhānam         Truth alone triumphs, not falsehood; Through truth the divine path is spread out by which the sages, desires completely fulfilled, reach where that supreme treasure of Truth resides.

Writers have a duty to avoid promoting religious or ethnic divides. India needs people who bring Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians… all communities and identities… together. We must aim to build a grand future living out of national potential, not pre-empt evolution clinging to a debilitating past. 

Jai Hind.

Shafeeq R. Mahajir is a well-known lawyer based in Hyderabad

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