Welcome to India – the land of lynchers. The land where there is a mob ever ready to kill people of a particular sect and religion. The land where a singer can insult a JNU student and another singer backs him up and goes to the extent of deleting his Twitter account in the former’s support. The land of undue hatred. However, this hatred is not new. Be it the 1983 Nellie massacre or the 1984 anti-Sikh riots or the 1987 Hashimpura massacre or the 2002 Gujarat riots or the never ending atrocities towards Dalits and Adivasis, hatred has always been in the minds of the majority towards the minorities and Dalits. And our government has time and again failed us minorities because it can’t afford to lose the vote of its majority.
Just the other day, the blood soaked picture of a man begging for his life went viral but failed to create the outrage that a similar picture in the 2002 Gujarat riots did. And if that is not enough, Major Gogoi, who tied a voter to a jeep as a lesson to the stone pelters, has been awarded by General Bipin Rawat, and once again, our so-called nationalists applauded Rawat for the ‘greater deed’ done for the nation. The Saharanpur violence has already created a stir with anywhere between 10,000-20,000 people from the Bhim Army gathering at Jantar Mantar to protest against the atrocities on Dalits.
And all these incidents make me wonder if this is the worst phase that India is going through. A mob can lynch anyone on the road and nobody cares. And if you’re from a particular religion, be prepared that a segment of politically influential people might just favour the crime. Remember Akhlaq’s lynching and how his alleged killer was wrapped in tricolour and commemorated like a martyr? People are being killed on the basis of rumours spread on Whatsapp. And we are the ones who mocked Pakistan for lynching Mashal Khan. What hypocrites!
The houses of Dalits and lower caste people have been set on fire. Women are getting raped and kids killed. But we are quiet. And this deafening silence is what our society consists of now. It consists of a mob filled with bloodlust and people who show solidarity on Facebook and other social media platforms and then forget all about the incident. A student disappeared from Delhi’s most reputed central university and the central government took no notice of it. And those who spoke against it were termed as ‘anti-nationals‘.
But wait, why am I even writing to a nation whose conscience died along with the men its mob killed. People meeting us in our day-to-day lives are the biggest goons. You write for a subject that matters to you and you’ll be subjected to rape threats and verbal abuse just as Shehla was. I keep on getting threats on a daily basis. A certain group of people assumed that I slept with Najeeb. Why? Because I ended up making a video about his mother and her plight, and of course, relations like humanity doesn’t exist for us Indians anymore. Would you tolerate it if somebody speaks like this about your sister, wife, mother or girlfriend? Or would you yourself talk like this about them? Then why are we quiet when a singer stooped as low as he can and abused a student activist?
After May 14, 2014, I’ve come across many bigots on my friend list and I’m now used to losing friends and gaining enemies. It’s a daily part of my life now. I’ve faced unfounded hate at every step for the last three years. But at the same time, there are people who stand up against this religious intolerance. But what’s scary is how a lot of people have taken these incidents, not as a communal occurrence, but as serendipity.
We, the Muslims of India, are seen as an undivided group. I have grown up hearing comments like, “Oh, you don’t look like a Muslim,” or “You are too western to be a Muslim,” or my favourite of all, “Do you eat beef?” I have been time and again stereotyped and I’m sure it’s the story of every other Muslim. And it’s a reality that we are living with.
But who triggered such stereotypes and this mob bloodlust? Us. We did. You did. I did. And remember, there will be a day when this mob will kill us, irrespective of our religion or caste. They won’t think twice whether we belong to the majority or minority. They’ll just kill us.
My parents who live in west Asia are scared. They ask me to stay away from controversial topics. And to be honest, the kind of hate messages I receive daily on my Facebook profile scares me too. Yes, I’m scared. I’m scared to write. Every time when I cook mutton in my otherwise ‘premier’ society, I’m scared. I’m scared to wear hijab that I usually wear during Ramadan. I’m scared of being at the receiving end of this unreasonable hatred.
But I’m a journalist as well and it’s my duty to talk about the plight of minorities and the others who are oppressed. Am I supposed to be scared of being honest in my profession just because I’ve an Arabic surname? How long will it take for India to realise that I’m an Indian daughter too? When will I be patriotic enough for them to understand that I care about my country too? Yes, you might call me an ‘anti-national’ if you want to, but remember, being a nationalist is not a tag to be proud of either!