Two prominent Indian writers have returned the prestigious literary honour, Sahitya Akademi award, after a Muslim man was lynched outside his house in Uttar Pradesh state on a suspicion that he had stored beef in his refrigerator. Both authors criticised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on the issue. One of the authors, Nayantara Sahgal, when asked by an anchor of a TV channel that Modi tops popularity charts and has been elected by a landslide, replied that even Hitler rose to power after a landslide. One might disagree with the comparisons, but the point Sahgal wanted to drive home was that a PM cannot remain silent when the reports of fascistic activities by his own party men bombard the media every day. A fascist mindset is always in search of a climax. Destruction of Babri Masjid, Gujarat pogrom, Muzaffarnagar massacre, lynching of a Muslim man on the suspicion that he is a ‘Pakistani terrorist’ are all manifestations of a desire for some climax, which, as indicated by a pathological hatred of Muslims in India, amounts to ethnic cleansing. A similar mindset is at work in Kashmir.
In fact, it is the mindset that is actually ruling the Muslim-majority region with such boldness that a legislator is beaten inside the Assembly for hosting a party where he served beef kababs. Now, in the raging controversy over a law criminalising slaughter of bovine animals, which was enacted during the barbaric Dogra monarchy, one could construe Eng Rashid’s ‘beef party’ as a provocation. Since the law stands, despite a legal freeze of sorts that makes its violation not so grave a crime, Rashid could have been handled according to rules. But, in its race towards the ultimate climax, a fascistic mindset never cares for rules, even if framed by its own descendants and followers.
That is why the BJP legislators assaulted Rashid. The People’s Democratic Party Parliament Member Tariq Hamid Karra was among many who, rightly, linked the attack on Rashid with the lynching of the ‘beef suspect’ in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh. Karra has demanded an FIR against the assailants, unlike Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who merely condemned the incident. Mufti should take heed of Karra’s warning that “if the communal and radical Hindutva elements are not reined in immediately, the time is not far away when we will see Dadri-like appalling incidents replicated on the streets of a Muslim majority state like Jammu and Kashmir.”