Communalist forces have once again brought Jammu and Kashmir to the brink with a deliberate act of malicious provocation carried out in demographically sensitive areas of the Jammu region already deeply polarised by a sustained campaign over a period of nearly one-and-a-half decades, as during last year’s assembly elections, to bring the BJP to power in the state. The border district of Rajouri, where activists of the extremist outfit, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, had set flags with sacred inscriptions in Arabic on fire a week ago, has been under curfew since Tuesday following anger and outrage over the sacrilege, and life had come to a halt in the Kashmir Valley on Saturday due to a strike called by major business associations, and supported by main pro-freedom groups, to protest against yet another attack on Muslims’ religious symbols.
Predictably, to add fuel to the fire, members of the BJP leadership have come out in defence of the flag-burning incident, with the state’s Deputy Chief Minister, Nirmal Singh, terming it as a “nationalistic act,” obviously drawing an unwarranted parallel because the flags resembled those of the Islamic State – an entity whose depravity, savagery, and terrorism have been condemned across the world, no less by Muslim societies themselves. The Deputy Chief Minister need not have taken the trouble to reiterate his party’s ideology, as the BJP’s track record – and that of its numerous affiliates – differs from that of the IS and other sectarian militias tearing the Middle East apart only in scale and armoury, and the fact that while the latter hardly make any claims to cherish democratic values, the former unleash their bloody pogroms under the garb and protection of a purportedly democratic structure.
Facile clarifications by the VHP’s state patron, Ramakant Dubey, that his activists had no idea of what the “Persian” inscription on the flag torched in Rajouri meant would be laughed out of any sensible court, given – together with the 9/11 fallout and the complimentary services of the electronic media and the internet – his party’s obsessive preoccupation with things Muslim, like their personal law and “licence” to marry four wives. The tragedy about the state’s VHP patron and his sangh fold, and their like-minded counterparts in other faith, cultural and political systems, is their inability to see beyond the motivated use and abuse of symbols. Otherwise he, and the numerous men and women speaking of Divine Providence and religion would have been in mourning robes ever since a quarter of the globe’s population, living near as well as far, was thrown into an orgy of butchery and bombings on the basis of sects and majority-and-minority character.