When mazhab becomes the foundation for the debates in a heinous gang rape of an eight year old child, then there is some major problem in the discourse of the society. However, what can we do? This is the Modi-led-BJP-ruled era we are living in right now. As religion has become a political rhetoric for creating vote banks and using them as a grenade against dissenters, Bharat Mata is quite proud of her aulaads.
The memories of Nirbhaya and the subsequent protests are still raw. It was a rare moment in India’s post-independence history, where the whole country came together to protest and be the pall bearer of change. There were no religion, no caste, no gender, and no “nationalism”. It was a pure display of unity. It pains me to use such a somber event as an example, but how many times have we witnessed such level of unity for any cause in India? When in 2014, BJP came to power, like many, I too was worried, for a party founded on religious fundamentalism and whose history is deeply rooted in using communal violence to advance their cause, could hardly be trusted. And here we are.
Asifa Bano was a child whose suffering will resonate through the history of India. Like Nirbhaya, she endured the worst in our society and her soul will be blessed by the eternal beauty of the jannat of Kashmir. Her age, the gruesome act of perverseness done on her, all indicates a deeply rooted sickness that is rotting the society, from its core.
However, the story escalates with the boisterous display of religiosity as many in Kashmir came down to protect the rapists and the mastermind Sanji Ram, in the name of nationalism and Hindu egotism. As New York Times reported, Hindu women in Kashmir raised their voices – not for Asifa – but for the alleged criminals, stating that they will go on a hunger strike and may even immolate themselves if the rapists and the perpetrators are convicted. Hindu Ekta Manch, a self-appointed Hindu-nationalist group, came in full defense of the rapists, using national flag to protest the investigation. Even two ministers of BJP in the J&K government went on to criticize the investigation of the police, hinting that the police were Muslims and hence, were unable to carry on a fair investigation. A mob of Hindu lawyers in Kashmir fought tooth and nail to prevent the police from filing the charge sheet. Slogans of Bharat Mata were echoed through the valley and national flag was used as a refuge to “save” the Hindu clan from the Muslims in Kashmir.
For those who say that we should not make this incident about religion and politics, I hate to break it to them that this is very much about religion and politics. And the sooner we realize it, the sooner we will be able to change it. Sanji Ram premeditated this heinous act of inhumanity to specifically drive away the Muslim nomadic community from Kathua and the lack of outrage (and support) from the political class, along with the support from the Hindu Nationalists, this is political in every sense.
Justice will be served, I have that much of confidence in India’s constitution; but the fact that they could torture, mutilate, rape, and then murder a child in the name of Ram, must worry us about the extent to which they can go for their Hinduism. Religion and politics will always be a part of India’s discourse, there is no way to eliminate it now, or in the near future. We will have to carve out a haven for each religion to co-exist peacefully, and that lies solely in our hands.
Kathua is not just an incident in the annals of India, but a wakeup call for us to act and vote responsibly. It is exactly the “ache din” that the Hindu fundamentalists wanted and hence voted en-masse to bring BJP in power. The handful of dissenters who are left and the conscious Indians, who care, must do the same in the upcoming election – for when injustice becomes the law of land any person seeking justice becomes a part of the resistance. And Resist We Must!
Photo: Lawyers of the Jammu Bar Association burn tyres as they demand then transfer of Asifa murder case investigations to the CBI in Jammu on April 11 (IANS).