This silence is deafening
This silence on the account of remorseless mob lynching which is being perpetrated incessantly in our nation is deafening.
Be it the dastardly killing of a 16-year-old kid who gave up his seat for an elderly person only to be labelled anti-national and lynched, or the killing of a DSP on security duty who was just watching a mob hail Pakistan and Al-Qaida in a mosque.
We all are aware that in this nation, there is absolutely no hope of finding any humane ethics in political discourse. The BJP leadership which is always quick to issue statements of religious terrorism throughout the world, and no opportunity to blurt out the phrase “anti-national sentiments”, conveniently stays silent when it comes to internal terrorism in the name of ‘gau-raksha‘ and ‘religious hatred’ which are the most anti-national issues today. Consequently, the entire separatist leadership were very slow to respond to the gruesome incident of the mob murder of DSP Ayub Pandith in Jammu and Kashmir. Generally, the Hurriyat factions and JKLF swiftly ask for strikes and shutdowns on killings of militants and stone pelters.
But, aren’t we aware of this discourse? This approach of selective activism in the name of social defence which is carried out by factional leaders in the country. One conveniently stays silent on the issue which does not fit their agenda or is detrimental to their ideology and shouts about the issue which promotes their own interest.
All of this is not new. What is new is the silence of the people. The convenient cocoon of hateful silence, bigotry and ‘let them burn’ attitude which the citizens of our country are engulfed in nowadays. Whenever a Muslim is inhumanly and lawlessly attacked or killed by a mob, and someone speaks against such barbarism, the question comes, “But where were you when a Hindu guy was killed by them, and where were you when that soldier was pelted with stones?“. Whenever a soldier is mobbed and killed, and someone speaks against the atrocity, the question comes, “But where were you when they killed us, and where were you when they mobbed and beat us in the name of cows?”
“Where were you” is killing us. Whenever an atrocity happens and the proponents of the ‘where were you’ mob try to defend and justify the heinous crime in the name of equivalence. It is like, “If they killed our people, let their people be killed, and everything will be equal, justified and fine.” But who are “our people”? Aren’t we our people? Who are we underneath that garb of religion, caste and customs? Aren’t we Indians? Above all, aren’t we humans? One group thinks it is okay to not protest against the killing of another group, and the other group thinks the same way in some screwed sense of relief for the earlier crimes, and every day a human is falling on either side. Every day people are being killed from each side while we are complacent in this “where were you” rhetoric.
It is not that we don’t understand this silence. This inherent frustration and anger against the ill elements of the other group which drives us towards this madness. Even a small example of perceived crime perpetrated by an individual of a certain group leads us into blanketing our perception of the whole community with such criminal values. And in a nation like ours, such examples are bountiful. But never had it ever pushed us into believing that the whole “other” community is degradable or deserves to be punished in the way that guarantees our silence over any inhuman mob lynching. We are becoming the victims of such crimes. If this silence continues, these elements of mob hatred will get emboldened as much as to take over this nation. Egypt, Syria, Turkey, are examples of such elements threatening the life of a peaceful nation.
I have never hoped or expected much from the government, either this government or that. But I have always hoped and expected change from the citizens. After the Ayodhya Ram Mandir/ Babri Masjid case, the next generation of citizens showed an unforeseen maturity when it came to the verdict of the case, and discarded the need for violence for an archaic issue which does not warrant any need for involvement in this day and age. Same goes for an incident like 2008 Mumbai attacks when every single citizen of the country united against such barbarism, and discarded any rhetoric of terror in the name of “religious jihad” and stood firmly against such appropriations.
Only the citizens can break this silence and this habit of hateful and selective criticism when it comes to such crimes. We must all protest against such crimes and try to discard this rhetoric of “where were you when…?”. It is convenient for some people to only criticize the wrongdoings against their community, and turn a blind eye when any atrocity is perpetrated by people from their own community. We all must surrender to the idea that many people will do it. People will protest for their own groups. They would not swap places and see from another perspective. They would not unify in protest against the issue, not people. They will keep silent. They cower when it comes to criticizing their own and feel powerful in criticizing the others. But we should not succumb to this.
“Where were you when…?” “Where were you when…?” All of us were here! But you only chose to stay silent “when they were there”. We must all feel offended for any crime regardless of the group the criminal hails from, or the group the victim belongs to. We must understand that if we speak against any inhuman crime regardless of the group, and keep doing it willfully and incessantly, there will come a day when there won’t be any need for the question: “where were you when…?”. If everyone decides to discard their selective and cowardly approach of self-interest and starts protesting for humanity, we all shall prevail, unify and bloom. But, if we continue on this hateful path, we shall all wither as the people with most hatred will take over the society.
Religion is not going anywhere, not at least in the foreseeable future. As an atheist, I feel that that moving away from hackneyed religious beliefs should be our ideal first step towards social evolution. But as we can see, the people in our society are not ready to discard religion in any way, rather they feel empowered by the divide which religion and ideologies related to it create in the society. Any religious propaganda is a tool of power that can even blind people into killing each other without remorse. I hope that one day, all this religious, caste and cultural divide vanishes from the minds of people as people get enlightened to the idea that humanity is the only ideology which needs to be taken forward in the social future.
Let us all protest against lynching in the name of cows, in the name of religion, in the name of nationalism, in the name of azaadi, in the name of jihad, and in the name of a “name”. Let us all fight this deafening silence.