An environment of communal unrest is quickly taking shape in India, and is threatening the very basis of a secular society. On one hand, there are those who are expressing concern over this threat. On the other hand, there are people who not only call the threat an exaggeration, but also have the audacity to mention past instances, proving that such things have “always been happening”.
Although there are some like former Navy Chief Admiral Ramdas who expressed his fears about a plot to impose a communal agenda in India through an open letter to the PM and the President himself, who voiced his opinion against the growing intolerance in many speeches.
But just like writers who have been dismissed as politically motivated by prominent leaders and even dubbed anti-national by the bhakts , the repeated wake-up calls have failed to provoke any solid action other than a mere statement by the PM.
Another individual who has become the latest victim of internet trolls motivated by communal hatred is a Rajasthani writer named Rajeev Sharma , who wrote a biography of the Prophet Mohammed in Marwari . This was just an honest effort to clear out misunderstandings and spread a message of peace, until all hell broke loose after Sharma uploaded the 112 page text, in PDF format.
As is tradition for online trolls, Sharma got comments criticising and even abusing him for propagating any other religion apart from Hinduism. While one brought up the tragic plight of Kashmiri Pandits, there were others who reminded him of Aurangzeb’s atrocities. The reaction is reminiscent of the kind that MM Basheer , a Muslim writer, who had to stop writing columns on the Ramayana following threats by fanatics — who could not stand a Muslim writing about a Hindu scripture.
The intolerance, on full display in the responses to Sharma’s literary initiative for Hindus and Marwaris who cannot understand Arabic, is exactly what Admiral Ramdas pointed out in his letter , urging the Prime Minister to take note “before it’s too late.”
In recent times, anyone who tries to express an opinion against communal violence is labelled as ‘anti-national’, ‘sickular’ and many other terms being invented every day, as asking people to go to Pakistan is becoming the standard response to India’s problems.
Hate speeches from all quarters continue as motor mouths ranging from the likes of Yogi Adityanath to Asaduddin Owaisi spew venom. The situation grows worse as blame games continue, and the state watches with an appalling, frustrating silence.