The recent incidents of communal violence on the eve of Ram Navami in Delhi and across many parts of the country caused a great deal of concern among the people – commoners and distinguished alike. In an interview to “Siasat” Justice Jaspal Singh, a retired judge poured his heart out with his personal account.
“It was the blessed day of Ram Navami. I was undergoing oxygen therapy in a hospital”, Justice Jaspal Singh said, “Doctors declared that you will lose your life if you do not get oxygen.”
“It was morning time, I thought how blessed is this day when Lord Ram came on earth to set up Ram Rajya – a rule where the voice of even a washerman is heard for justice”, reminisced Singh.
Remembering his childhood memory of Ram Navmi, Singh said, “My mother used to take me to Mandir on Ram Navami, the sweet melodious devotional bhajans were sung on the occasion still ring in my ears. On Eid, our Muslim neighbour used to bring us finger licking delicacies.”
“No my mother was not Hindu she wasn’t even a Muslim. She was just a good human being who deemed everyone equal as brothers and sisters,” Singh said.
“Whenever I used to remind her that we are Sikh what we have to do with Hindu Muslim, she used to quote the key messages of the Guru Granth Sahib saying: Everyone in the world is equal.
“About Hindu, she quotes Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – The World Is One Family. About Muslim view she said: All are children of Adam and hence brothers and sisters.”
Justice Singh spoke about the found memories of his mother who had to live through the tragic events of the country’s partition which shredded the fabric of society and caused many deaths, horror of uprooting reluctant, bewildered people from their ancestral homes, “In spite of the tragic event which was a deep psychic preoccupation of her time, she was an extremely secular and clean hearted woman”, Singh said about his mother.
“While I was getting oxygen, my mind was thinking: like our bodies, our souls too need the oxygen of love, brotherhood, and harmony to prosper as a nation. I was down the memory lane”, Singh declared.
“I missed my mother terribly. I missed the devotional song sung in temples on Ram Navami. The Gurudwara shabad ‘Koi Bole Ram Ram, Koi Khudaaye, Koi Sevai Gusaiyan, Koi Allahe’ – Some call the Lord Ram, Ram, and some Khuda. Some serve Him as ‘Gusain’, others as Allah.
“I missed Rashid, my childhood pal. a regular Namaz goer, it was he who used to bring us the most delicious foods on Eids. ‘The fool’ never budged until he ate Gurdwara Prasad,” Singh recalled.
“By evening I was feeling better”, Singh continued about his hospitalization, “I switched on TV to watch some programs on Ram Navami. But the scenes which I watched on TV terrified me. ‘Oh my God, is it truly Ramnavami. Where are those devotional Bhajans in praise of Ramji, the scenes of dancing with joy and embracing each other in gaiety, those kirtans, where have all these gone’?”.
“What are these frenzy scenes of sword wielding crowds raising slogans against a community? Oh my God! Where have we come?” Singh wondered in anguish.
“I witnessed the pogrom of 1984 when the frenzy mob garlanded burning tyres in the necks of hapless Sikhs. Innocent Sikh children were set alight live. This recent spate of violence brought back the horrific memories of 1984 and Gujarat violence in my mind”, Singh said. “Who is igniting the fire of hatred again? Who is dog-whistling these crowds to commit communal violence? Who is flaming the fire of communalism? Why is the country witnessing communal riots and clashes between religious communities almost daily?”.
“What nonsense is this that one cannot have a choice to dress and eat the kind of food he likes. Why can’t people offer prayers in open in spite of permission while some are given permission to indulge in open hate speech and provocation right in the presence of police? Why do rowdy elements insist to take processions into Muslim neighborhoods to deliberately spark violent confrontations?”, Singh wondered.
About foul language and hateful songs Singh wonders what kind of ‘Shobha Yatra’ is that leaves behind a trail of destruction in its wake. What kind of a rule is there which disregards the Supreme Court order to tear down people’s homes?”.
“The current breed of politicians are following the policy of British colonials of ‘divide and rule’. While the white Britishers – who took India at a time when it was one fifth of the world’s GDP – robbed the country of its material wealth and left it poor, their brown counterparts are robbing India of its civilizational ethos and moral wealth of its people to live harmoniously. The damage being caused by these brown masters is more severe and destructive,” Singh said.
“Is everything lost? Is there no hope?”, Singh asked and went on to say, ”Thankfully this is not the case. On people’s level there is a wealth of humanity. When Muslims were prevented from Namaz the doors of gurdwaras were opened for them to offer their prayer. Similarly, Hindus welcomed them in the confines of their homes. There are many Gurdwara where ‘Iftars’ are served to the Muslims in the holy month of Ramadan. The blessed land of this country cannot be devoid of humanity”, Singh said.
“There is a need to remind those who are behind these communal disturbances: ‘Majhab Nahin sikhata aapas Mein Bair Rakhna Hindi hai Vatan Hai Hindustan Hamara’. No religion teaches hatred, we are all Indians and India is our beloved country”, Singh said concluding his interview.