By Abdul Bari Masoud
What the country is seeing today is that a political party that won power on the promise of vikas (development) has turned hate into a political instrument. Because of this, there have been over 10,000 instances of communal violence in the country over the past eight years, and the Prime Minister has kept a stoic silence about them.
In this regard, the Supreme Court of India has made crucial and far-reaching observations on Friday (July 1) in the case of BJP spokesperson, Nupur Sharma who made disparaging remarks against the last Prophet of Islam in a TV debate.
The Court has very rightly called out the BJP spokesperson for being “single-handedly responsible for igniting emotions across the country”, and that she should apologise to the entire nation. The Supreme Court reportedly even observed that her outburst is responsible for what the Court called “the unfortunate incident in Udaipur”.
In this context, hatred appears to be the new political currency because it is an easy way to grabbing power. In recent months some Hindutva hatemongers openly gave call to take up weapons against Muslims, rape Muslim women, and commit genocide against them. These hate speeches were delivered at gatherings where law enforcement and administrative officials were present, but no action was taken against those who committed such offences. If not the ruling class, who is to blame? Who will put an end to the hate campaign against a community?
In a similar vein, the extremist Hindutva groups have relentlessly attacked the minority Christian population. As per a recent news report, quoting United Christian Forum (UCF) data, 207 cases of violence have been reported against Christians in 2022 (till May). This shows that this year, more than one incident has taken place each day so far!
The increased number of violence incidents faced by the Christian community in India led 2021 to be termed as “the most violent year for Christians”.
According to UCF, the upward year-on-year trend had peaked by the end of 2021, with about 505 incidents of violence reported from across the nation. Over 100 of these (1 in every 5 incidents) had been reported from Uttar Pradesh. This year, the northern state is still the forerunner, with 48 incidents (almost 1 in 4 incidents). Uttar Pradesh is closely trailed by Chhattisgarh with 44 incidents so far.
These occurrences are a direct result of the institutionalised hate politics that exist today. Alarmed by this grave situation in the country, leaders and gurus from many religions came together and formed a country-wide religious front called Dharmik Jan Morcha in order to foster love and amity among all communities.
The Morcha’s objectives are to promote mutual love, brotherhood, and amity in the country through talks and dialogues between people of different religions, work together to eradicate common social ills, dispel myths propagated among adherents of different faiths, foster an environment where people are free to practise their religions, stand up for the weak and oppressed segments of society, and more. It has established its units in several states so far and conducted several conventions and conferences in major cities and towns.
Prof. Mohammad Salim Engineer is the national convener of the Dharmik Jan Morcha. Speaking with Radiance, Prof. Salim Engineer, who is also vice president of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, said acts of violence occur when people do not practise their religion correctly. “It is not required that we share one other’s beliefs, but we should respect each other’s right to hold differing opinions,” he stated. The fact that gurus from every religion are present in the Morcha shows the true face of India, for they emphasise that religion unifies all people rather than dividing and separating them.
India is a special place in the globe with a wide range of religious, linguistic and cultural diversity where people coexist despite holding various religions and worldviews.
Underlying this aspect, Prof. Salim Engineer said, “Unfortunately, certain individuals are currently striving to tarnish this long-standing heritage for their political objectives. By sowing division among social groupings, they hope to destroy the tranquil environment of the nation. This peaceful society is threatened by several forces that are causing moral decay in the community. Therefore, it is once again up to these social leaders to step forth and take part in bringing about peace and harmony in the nation.”
Concurring Prof Salim’s thoughts, Father RB Roy of the Methodist Church told Radiance that there were additional social issues that needed to be discussed. He emphasised that if the country continued to do things that incited racial animosity while ignoring actual problems like rising unemployment, inflation and development, the nation would regress rather than advance.
In a similar vein, Galta Peethadhish Awadhesh Acharya Maharaj said, “Those persons who happen to be seniors of the society, are now creating misunderstandings against each other.” We are living in a highly politicised environment where we are fearful of one another and inciting hatred in our hearts, he added.
“Certain vested interests aim to divide the country by promoting enmity,” Mahamandaleshwar Pandit Purushottam Bharti remarked. The countrymen live in harmony and love one another; thus we should tell the hatemongers that they will fail in their objective.
Abhishek Jain, a prominent member of the Jain community, stated that religious leaders should promote fraternity and love among their adherents and that they should also realise that only love will extinguish the flames of hatred in this society.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Catholic Associations of the Archdiocese of Delhi passed a resolution urging fellow citizens to promote religious and cultural understanding, peace, harmony and cooperation in the country.
Speaking with Radiance, Father A C Michael said the Federation resolves to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue to sort out the differences among people and to eliminate intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief.
“We recognise the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions and resolve to enhance mutual understanding to constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace, harmony and cooperation among people.
The hate politics not only undermines economic growth and activity by taking priority over fundamental issues, but they also damage the nation’s reputation abroad.
Furthermore, the political lexicon of democracy, rights, equality, and deliberation has been corrupted by Hindutva-driven nationalism into sacrifice, duty, victimhood, pride, law and order, cow protection, love jihad, and conversions. The language required to really create and put into effect policies that would benefit the people is undermined by this lexicon.
Even Chief Justice of India NV Ramana also warned that politics of divisiveness is a threat to the fabric of the country. Speaking at a felicitation event organised by the Association of Indian Americans in San Francisco, Justice Ramana said the inclusiveness principle must be upheld everywhere in the world, including India. Inclusion fosters social cohesion, and cohesion is essential for peace and advancement.
“We need to focus on issues that unite us, not on those that divide us. In the 21st century, we cannot allow petty, narrow and divisive issues to dictate human and societal relationships,” the CJI said.