The capital of India is presenting a very dismal picture these days. The roads of northeast Delhi are red with blood. Somewhere a policeman is killed by an unruly mob, somewhere a handcart-puller is hit by bullets, somewhere a minor’s delicate bosom is pierced by a bullet, somewhere a woman from Bihar is waiting outside a mortuary to receive the corpse of her brother-in-law, somewhere an 85-year-old woman is burnt alive in her home, somewhere the only bread-earner of a family is beaten to death. The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is taking a bloody toll.
The latest body count is of 42 persons who have fallen prey to the bloodthirst in Delhi’s streets and neighbourhoods. Property worth millions of rupees has been burnt, vandalised, destroyed. Hate speeches are poisoning the minds of people. Rage has inflamed the passions of the youth.
Delhi is bleeding. The laps of mothers are being emptied. The demon of death is strutting about in the alleys and streets of Delhi. People are so terrified that they dare not venture outside. Children are starving, unable to even get milk and biscuits. The sick and ailing are not getting their medicine because no one is there who will go buy it from the market. People prefer starvation over moving out of their houses.
Some media houses are fanning the flames by manipulating and distorting facts. A particular religion is being blamed for all the mess. Rioting should not be attributed to any religion. Rioters have no religion because every religion preaches and upholds the basic human values. Religious people possess virtues like compassion, kindness, patience, and love for others. In Shiv Vihar area, two schools adjacent to each other were ransacked and burnt to ashes. One school was owned by a Hindu and the other by a Muslim. It is proof that violence and hate have nothing to do with religion.
JCBs and municipal workers are busy clearing the remains of burnt down cars, bikes, shops, homes. Roads are being cleared of stones and bricks and glass shards. Businessmen are too frightened to open their establishments. Students are too terrified to walk to their schools. Life will, no doubt, limp back to normalcy in Delhi but the scars inflicted on the minds and hearts of people are so deep and grievous that they will give shivers for a long period of time.
The sovereignty and the integrity of the country is at stake. What would have happened if the ugly flames of Delhi had spread to other parts of the country? The repercussions are scary beyond imagination. This country cannot afford another communal flare-up. The beauty of India lies in its unity in diversity. People of different religions, races and faiths live in harmony with each other. The country’s citizens have exhibited exemplary brotherhood for centuries now. Let that legacy continue to rule the hearts of the people. The secular traditions of the country that are almost vanishing now, may they be restored as soon as possible.
Political dissent is part of every democracy. The Indian Constitution allows its citizens to have a second opinion against any political decision. Peaceful protests strengthen secular and democratic institutions. There is a strong judicial system in the country to challenge any law or decision. Protests must be within the ambit of peace, patience, and understanding. There is no scope for any provocation or violence. Goons shouldn’t be allowed to roam freely on the streets. The architects of the Indian Constitution guaranteed many rights to its citizens irrespective of caste, creed, colour or faith. Jingoism has no space in the country.
An uneasy calm has returned to Delhi but normalcy will take a long time to return. Police and paramilitary forces are patrolling the city. Unity marches are being organised by common people. Goodwill gestures are being displayed from different quarters. Some prominent political and administrative stalwarts are trying to build amity by visiting many residential areas, which is welcome because such measures will pacify the angry people to a great extent. Such confidence building measures should be expedited. There is no scope for hatemongering.
Political leaders, writers, intellectuals, religious preachers, media persons and others have an important role to play. Hatemongers should be dealt with an iron hand. Police and other security agencies have a bigger role to play. There should be surveillance in all vulnerable and sensitive areas. It is the task of the Delhi Police to be the trouble shooter in this situation. May good sense prevail very soon!
—The writer is a teacher and columnist. He can be reached
at [email protected]