By Aushaq Hussain Dar
The lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, over a rumour that he was in possession of beef is not an isolated event, rather such incidents are endemic in Indian history. Theoretically India claims to be a secular and democratic republic but in practice minorities, particularly the Muslims, are reeling under majority domination which is exemplified by events like the demolition of Babri Masjid, Gujarat pogrom and Muzaffarnagar riots, etc.
The fanatic Hindu organisations of Sangh Parivar following the colonial rhetoric of primordial Hindu-Muslim antagonism are trying to execute Golwalker’s advice that “non-Hindus may stay in India wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privilege far less preferential treatment–not even citizen’s rights”. In the postcolonial period fanatic Hindu organisations have ignited communal violence in many parts of India.
The BJP led New Delhi government has stepped up to execute the Sangh Parivar’s Hindutva agenda. Measures like beef ban, introduction of Bhagvat Gita and Ramayana in school texts, safronisation of history, changing the city landmarks like Aurangzeb Road reflects the government’s keenness in Hinduising the nation. Thus, the common masses whose culture is characterised by accommodation are compelled to consume the violence manufactured by these fanatic groups for their own interests which they label as national interests.
The lynching of Akhlaq over alleged possession of beef is an act of sharpening religious boundaries between Hindus and Muslims. Prof DN Jha in his “The Myth of the Holy Cow” has shown that beef eating was not a taboo during the ‘ancient period’. It was common during the Vedic period when cattle were frequently slaughtered. In the course of time, the Brahmans gave up beef eating and those who eat it later were called lower castes. In the nineteenth century with the emergence of communal movements under colonial rule Muslims were stereotyped as beefeaters and Hindus as vegetarians. Such stereotypes served the agenda of Hindutva forces of projecting Hindus and Muslims as two distinctive entities with antagonistic practices.
After Indian independence the culture of India was celebrated as ‘unity in diversity’; the coexistence of Hinduism and Islam and other world religions; spirit of accommodation. India’s constitution was held as an extra-ordinary achievement. But the Muslims of India are supposed to pass the test of loyalty towards the Indian state despite being the only minority who chose to stay in India when they had the option of migrating to Pakistan.
When the Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan talked of taking Akhlaq’s lynching to the UN, he was dubbed by the BJP as using ‘Pakistani language’. The silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, instead of condemning the action, is reflective of political patronage to Hindu terrorism, who want to clear India from Muslims.
If the Indian left, liberals and civil society fail to rise above communal consideration and are unable to counter the production of violence by deconstructing orientalist rhetoric on religious identities in South Asia, this country is certain to be doomed. No matter what the Hindu terrorists do they can’t clean Muslims from India. Muslims are the largest minority in India and they have a combine population of 200 million. If Hindutva politicians think that violence and terror will cow down Muslims they are wrong. Unlike Hindus, Muslims have other countries to rely on. And the faith of Muslims is not complete unless they help their brethren in distress.
—The author is a research scholar at Kashmir University. Feedback: [email protected]