May 23. Another important day in the history of Indian democracy. No, not because everyone’s favourite party got re-elected but because there’s a segment of society which not only feels like an outsider in the mayhem of this celebration but is also worried of what it faces for another five years.
My anxiety was at its peak last night while those around me celebrated the much anticipated return of the Bharatiya Janta Party. Ever since the counting begun, there’s been a silent numbness inside me which is a result of the deep-rooted fear and the feeling of being alienated by my fellow countrymen.
As I write this piece, I myself feel like an outsider who’s now more scared about the coming years. If living with a fear due to your identity is not enough, the results made me believe that people around me have re-elected a party who has spewed such venom of bigotry and communalism that it has blinded even the best of us. And there’s no feeling more bitter than this. I fail to understand what was our nation thinking while voting.
Were the shouts of Akhlaq, Pehlu and Afrazul not heard clearly? Did the plight of Najeeb’s and Rohith’s mothers fall on deaf ears? Were the deaths of over 100 people during demonetisation not a national issue? Was Junaid not India’s son? Was Asifa not India’s daughter? Was Gauri Lankesh not Indian enough? Does the cry of unemployment and dying farmers not reach the people?
I will never be able to fathom how supporters ignored all these incidents and how they can burst crackers at the victory of a party that has so much blood on its hands. Is it that you don’t care because it hasn’t happened to you? Is it because your child was not stabbed in a train for wearing a skullcap or was not hanged to death for carrying cattle that you don’t feel the pain of your fellow men? Or maybe because nobody questions you about your food and because you don’t live in the repeated fear of being asked to “go to Pakistan,” it was easier for you to vote for the BJP?
While I readily face subtle Islamophobia in my day-to-day life, today, my faith in our democracy stands shaken. Today, all the advice of relocating to a different country (because it’s not safe here anymore) seems wise. I’m scared. I’m scared of what these coming five years will bring and I’m scared of living among people who seem to ignore the cries and plights of others in their blind bhakti. I hope against all odds that someday I’ll get to live in the country I was brought up in, without feeling scared or alienated.
Till then India, you’ve failed me.