The stirring of collective conscience

In the pervading gloom created by selective lynching of the innocent by misguided zealots, Wednesday’s protest rallies across the country (‘Not in My Name’) was the first sign of the stirring of the collective conscience of the civil society. It was not organized by any political party, though some political leaders were seen at some places. It was a spontaneous expression of revulsion of common people from all walks of life against the atmosphere of hatred and rancour being created by forces enjoying the patronage and protection of the powers that be. But the protest must not be a mere flash in the pan, a one-day affair. The protest has to be kept up, sustained and spread to every nook and corner of the country. Then alone it can have the desired and lasting effect.
The forces that are trying to tear apart the social fabric of the country are organized, resourceful, driven by blind hatred and impervious to any logic. They have the direct and indirect support of those entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining law and order in society. If the protests persist and spread, the participants will be targeted by the zealots and bigots, with the State remaining neutral on the side of the latter. They should be mentally prepared for this. That those in authority have not condemned the lynchings as strongly and as unequivocally as is necessary nor has the Parivar pulled up its aberrant members is a sad commentary on the present state of affairs.
The common citizen who has to fend for himself all alone in any adversity feels helpless when the myrmidons of the law force him to implicate his neighbour falsely or give false testimony against him, accusing him of crimes he has not committed. It is only the collective protest of the civil society and collective resistance by it that can save the innocent from being lynched by the zealots. If there is no collective courage then there will be collective pusillanimity. The men and women of arts and letters and the ordinary nameless and faceless citizens who came out on the streets to assert that everyone in this country, irrespective of his caste, language and religion, are equal citizens, enjoying the same fundamental rights as have been given by the Constitution have showed the way. Any attempt to constrict or dilute those rights cannot be allowed to succeed.

Sunday, 2 July, 2017