India’s Journey From ‘Ahimsa’ To ‘Hinsa’

India has never been a land of Ahimsa, especially since 1947. To say that India was never so, is to state that the caste system in India is as old as India itself. Caste was, and still is, used as a humiliating tool to suppress members of the Dalit community, and violence has been used against them from time immemorial.

Gandhi himself fell to violence just after Independence; he got assassinated by, in my opinion, the first terrorist of Independent India Nathuram Godse on January 30, 1948.

Since 1947, there has not been any improvement in the condition of members of the Dalit community. Violence is still being used against them. Manual scavenging continues, and with it, hundreds of deaths of manual scavengers who belong to the Dalit community.

Then, who can forget the violence against Sikhs in Delhi in 1984 who were killed, burnt alive, and had their homes burnt by majority Hindus. Then came the Babri Masjid demolition by Hindutva forces on December 6, 1992. Gujarat riots took place only two decades ago, when hundreds of Muslims were killed and burnt by Hindu mobs, who were helped by the then establishment of Gujarat.

Now coming to Kashmir, there are several massacres to talk about: the Gawkadal massacre, Bijbehara massacre and Sopore massacre, allegedly carried out by army forces. And now, the hundreds of killings and blinding of children in recent years in mass protests. We can’t forget the Kunan Poshpora episode, when soldiers reportedly raped women from the two villages. Then, mass crackdown of the entire Kashmir, and the internet and phone blockade after the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019 speak for itself.

Last week, the government restored some internet access in Kashmir after a long shutdown. The announcement applied only to 301 websites.

Violence in the form of lynchings against Dalits, Muslims, Adivasis and other marginalised communities continues at an unprecedented pace. 

We can say there have also been some right things in India, from development on the education front, to reservation for Dalits and Muslims in jobs and scholarships. But this has not helped much in stopping the violence that is now being  celebrated after right wing party BJP came into power in 2014. Poverty is still rampant in the Indian society.

So, it would be insane to say that India has completely transformed itself according to the teachings of Gandhi. Rather, it has, and is, becoming more violent day by day. It’s very difficult to say how much time it will take for India to fully become an “Ahimsa Country”, as envisioned by Gandhi.

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