Victims of hatred

Two incidents of lynching took place on Friday: one near the Jamia Masjid of Srinagar and the other far away at Ballabhgarh in Haryana. In the first, Mohammed Ayub Pandit, a DSP of J & K police, was set upon by a frenzied mob of about two hundred people who had gathered in the mosque to offer special prayers on the occasion of Shab-e-Qadr in the holy month of Ramzan. He was suspected to be a police spy sent in mufti to photograph people who were raising anti-India slogans. Senior police officials later clarified that policemen posted near the mosque do nor wear uniform “as a matter of service regulation.” In the second incident, four Muslim boys who were returning to their homes in the village near Ballabhgarh after doing Eid shopping in Delhi were attacked in a train on the suspicion that they were carrying beef in their bag. They were abused, humiliated, beaten up, knifed and objectionable comments were made against them. A nineteen year old boy, Junaid, one of the four, succumbed to knife injuries.
The two incidents represent the two faces of intolerance, suspicion and religious bigotry that prevail in India today and get the better of intrinsic human values like compassion, piety and fellow-feeling. What is noteworthy is that the victims in both cases were of the same religion. In one case they were targeted by people of their own community, in the other by members of the majority community. Political parties may now start the usual blame game but recriminations will not help change the climate of violence and remove the causes of it. The social fabric of the nation is being torn apart. Mutual suspicion and hatred are rising. If this continues unchecked, deeper fissures will develop in the polity and put a question mark on the future of India as a democratic and secular country. These fissures are now visible not only in Kashmir but other States, too. The movement for a separate Gorkhaland is also a manifestation of intolerance and alienation.
All concerned need to pause and ponder which way we are going and what the future has in store for us. The main responsibility for turning the tide devolves on the ruling party but others, too, have to discharge their duties. This awareness of the looming danger is absent in the thinking of the political parties, ruling or Opposition. It is a pity and a tragedy.

Wednesday, 28 June, 2017