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“Don’t Let Political Parties Normalise Radicalisation”

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From Incredible India To Intolerant India

30th January 1948: This is the date on which the popular figure of our country, called ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ by the masses, was shot dead by a man named ‘Nathuram Godse’, a man with a different political ideology from Gandhi. And, I believe, these differences in ideology became the cause of Gandhi’s death.

It is natural for two humans to not be identical to each other in many ways – they might have a different lifestyle, a difference of opinion, a different way of talking or different eating habits. These individual characteristics of human beings make them distinct from each other and give them a unique identity. And thus, similarly, they might have different political, social and religious ideologies. These differences in ideology are not always an issue or a matter of concern. But, when these differences cause so much hate within a person, that he can cause harm to another person of a different ideology, it is a matter of grave concern.

After 72 years of Gandhi’s death i.e. on 30th January 2020, another similar incident took place on the streets of the National Capital. But this time, it was not Gandhi nor it was Godse, however, we can compare this incident to the one in 1948. This time, it was a peaceful crowd of protesting students on one side, and one 17 years old, self-claimed, ‘Ram Bhakt’ (allegedly) (although I will call him Bhakt of a particular party on the other side), on the other side, with a country-made pistol.

He fired a shot at a protesting student. Like Godse, he was also filled with so much hatred against his ideological counterparts, that he took this extreme step of shooting at a protesting student.

He fired a shot at a protesting student. Like Godse, he was also filled with so much hatred against his ideological counterparts, that he took this extreme step of shooting at a protesting student. After this incident, two more similar incidents took place, one at Shaheen Bagh on 1st February 2020 and second at Jamia on 3rd February 2020. In my opinion, the only difference between the incident which happened in 1948 when Gandhi ji was shot, dead and today’s incident, is that today’s incident hardly came as a shock to the consciousness of the people.

All these incidents that are happening in our country from the last few years raise serious questions and it’s high time that WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, ask ourselves, whether this is the India our freedom fighters fought for? Is this the India they dreamt of?

These situations that have been created in our country: an environment where anyone who speaks against the government is termed as anti-national and a terrorist, places of protest are compared with Syria; all these launch a direct attack on our constitutional values and principles.

They are against the very principle on which our democracy was founded. Asking questions and raising voices of dissent is an essence of a democratic country and ensures transparency and accountability. We must understand that by creating such an environment, they are the ones who will benefit from it. These are the people who took the oath of the constitution when they were elected by us, i.e. those in power. Their sole motive behind this is to maintain the status quo of their power.

Don’t Let Political Parties Normalise Radicalisation

We need to understand this whole process of radicalisation, i.e., how a person becomes an extremist and, thus, intolerant.

There are two aspects to this issue. First of all, successive governments, be it Congress, BJP or any other, have failed to fulfil the aspirations of the people of this country. The reason I say so is that the state has failed to provide quality education to develop a scientific temper among the citizens. Due to this lack of scientific temper, a large section of people is unable to form a rational judgment.

The second aspect of this issue is the nature of our society. Our society is structured in such a way, that it can easily be divided on the basis of religion, caste, region and race. It’s this second aspect that the politicians try to take maximum benefit of, by polarising the people on various above-mentioned factors, like religion, caste etc.

One feeling that is deep-seated in us is that we belong to a superior religion, caste or race. And it is this feeling that makes us believe that a person belonging to another religion, caste or race is the root of all the problems which we are facing. We then start discriminating while treating people belonging to a different religion, caste, region or race. All of this provides a platform for greedy politicians to cultivate their hate among different sections for their own benefit.

Every political party is to be blamed for this. Every party has contributed to this with some exception. We have witnessed political violence in West Bengal, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and almost every part of this country.

Here, I will like to mention a few lines written by my revolutionary hero, Bhagat Singh in the article “Communal Riots and Their Solution” published in Kirti in 1927. He wrote, “During these times, the role of communal leaders and newspapers have also been observed in instigating these riots. In these times of communal hatred, the leaders of India have decided to remain quiet. These are the same leaders who claim to pioneer the great responsibility of liberating the country.” These lines stand true even after 90 years, as we still seem to be living in the 1920s, but with different players who are playing the ‘divide and rule’ game with the goal of making India a global power.

We, the People of India i.e. those citizens who have an attitude like “humein kya farq padta hai, yeh desh aisa hi hai aur aisa hi rahega” (it doesn’t matter to us; this country has always been like this and will continue being like this) are also responsible for this pathetic situation to some extent.

Your political silence has given space to these anti-social, anti-national elements to play with our society. We have either become so tolerant, that whatever happens in our country, it doesn’t matter to us; or we have become so intolerant that we can’t listen to the person with a different ideology, and can go to the extreme that we can even cause his death.

Fulfil Your Fundamental Duties

It is high time that we speak against this political violence. We should try to create pressure on political parties so that better educational facilities are provided to empower us, citizens, with rational thinking. A few days back, a quote was trending on social media which said, “Education is not memorizing that Hitler killed 6 million Jews. Education is understanding how millions of ordinary Germans were convinced that it was required.”

We must understand how these hate speeches given by our political leaders affect the people with ordinary thinking power, and how this whole system works. And we must bring an end to this ‘Bhakt‘ cult. We can support any political party or leader but at the same time, we need to question our leaders for a healthy democracy.

At last, I will conclude by saying that if we enjoy certain fundamental rights, then at the same time, the Constitution also provides fundamental duties, which must be fulfilled by every citizen. And it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect, preserve and promote constitutional values. The more we are responsible for our fundamental duties, the greater we can enjoy our fundamental rights.

Jai Hind Jai Bharat!

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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