Modi’s biggest contribution to India is teaching it to hate. It seems to be finally dawning on the people that “Modistan” is the same as “Rogistan”. As the BJP wins election after election to now rule 21 states in India, victory galas and revelry should swamp party cadres. Instead, what have the BJP and its Sangh ideologues ushered in? The plague of hatred, bigotry, acrimony, bile, an overpowering majoritarian rage to smash history, Dalits, minorities, free thought, cultures, eating habits, multiculturalism, classicism, statues and now the glorification of raping minorities.
Forget about the Ram Raj, Congress Raj, Modi Raj, etc. It’s jungle raj, established in India, since the rule of a pseudo nationalist party, which has been proved to be the God of Devils. India is repeatedly raped, looted, ditched and murdered over and over again under this devil rule. Devils have been set free to perpetuate whatever crime they want as they have the full support of their Lord and his associates in the name of religion and categories, aided by land, power, and money. The hypothesis that India is going to perish under this party’s rule has become a fact. Communal riots all over the country have led to spread of hatred, fear, lack of trust among the fellow citizens. Every religion in this world has a clear message: Do good deeds and abstain from evils. Help each other and live peacefully among each other. But this party rule has taken it otherwise: Spread communal hatred and support the criminals. Forget about the religious preaching of Vedas and appoint the Babas as ministers to carry out prayers on the roof of the government buildings to shoe away the chaos created by their rule.
In February 2015, at an event organized by the Christian community, Modi addressed his citizens and gave a sweeping speech. He said, “My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly. Mine will be a government that gives equal respect to all religions. India is the land of Buddha and Gandhi. Equal respect for all religions must be in the DNA of every Indian. We cannot accept violence against any religion on any pretext and I strongly condemn such violence. My government will act strongly in this regard.”
Just a month later, talking about women safety in his much celebrated speech series Mann Ki Baat, he spoke, “our heads hang in shame when we hear of instances of crime against women”.
And yet, what happened in Kathua – temple or not, marks a frighteningly new low for India’s oft-mutilated socio-political ethos.
Almost three years later, we as a nation find ourselves at the precipice of true evil. Two gruesome crimes, both of which resonate exactly opposite to what PM assured us of – the horrifying gang rape and murder of the eight-year-old baby Asifa inside a temple premise of Kathua and the rape of an 18-year-old girl by the BJP MLA, Kuldeep Singh Sengar in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh.
A child, who should have ideally been throwing a fit about her heavy third-grade bag, came face to face with the most demonic side of the human form, simply because she belonged to “them”, and they needed to be a taught a lesson. In the Kathua minor’s case they were the Muslim nomadic tribe Bakerwals, who’d allegedly been having run-ins with the Hindus of Kathua over their animals grazing Hindu lands. The most audacious way the drunk-on-muscle-power Sanjhi Ram and gang found to assert their supremacy was to kidnap, drug, rape and murder an eight-year-old. To send a message to the other side that this is what we can do to your women and girls, if you don’t fall in line. Dishonor them. Dishonor you. Because the flimsy honor of a man in a conservative society invariably rests in a vagina.
For one, this wasn’t a case of a frenzied mob plundering and pillaging anything that came in the way. It was a premeditated act carried out with a specific purpose. Two, the vulgar confidence of the perpetrators in their political clout convincing them of their comfortable places above the law – at least in their heads, couldn’t have possibly come from nothing. Even as active attempts are being made by certain sections to de-link this rape from the political milieu, how does one overlook acts like formation of Hindu Ekta Manch with at least two BJP leaders on their side or the obscene protest of local lawyers – byproducts of ugly arrogance?
The similarities in both these cases are agonizing. The rapists were all men in power, supported by other support groups in power. Both the girls belonged to a minority group with baby Asifa being a Bakarwal – A Sunni Muslim Nomadic tribe and the Unnao survivor being a Dalit. In both cases, their identity of being a ‘woman of minority’ was used against them. In Kathua, it was used by the Hindu men to send out a strong message to the Bakarwal community urging them to leave their land whereas the Unnao survivor’s Dalit identity was used to question her and her family’s credibility. Both cases saw rape as a tool used by the powerful to ‘satisfy their lust’ and teach minorities a lesson. Both these cases rightly proved that our country’s leaders and supposed protectors are true bigots, religion-fueled hypocrisy is only masquerading to be secular. These cases proved that interests of the majority overpower the entire legal, judicial and social systems – rendering marginalized victims often helpless and powerless.
Yes, rape is a common crime in India. But we need to acknowledge the fact that rape is also being used as a tool. The sexism we face is racialized and communalized too. In the case of baby Asifa, the reason behind her rape and murder was to threaten the minority Bakerwal tribe to move out of that particular area. Eight-year-old baby Asifa’s rape and murder was not an opportunist crime, but a result of the politics of hatred by Hindu supremacists that dehumanizes Muslims.
Hindu nationalists will trivialize the rape of a Muslim by ignoring it or by representing it as a conspiracy to malign the Hindu community and nation. But that the lawyer for baby Asifa’s family as well as the main police official in charge of the investigation are themselves Hindus illustrates that this is not a Hindu versus Muslim struggle but one between Hindu supremacists and those who believe in the possibility of an India where human lives matter regardless of faith.
The little girl is a victim not only of the rise of this vicious strain of nationalism which pits one community against another, especially at a time when resources are strained. She is a victim also of the sanctioned savagery that is in full force in India currently – sanctioned not only by the actions of groups that call themselves Hindu-Ekta-Morcha but also the silence, and delayed speaking out, of those who run this government.
The imagination of the Muslim as the dangerous Other to the Hindu Self has a conspicuous, sexualized dimension. Muslim men are seen as seductive lovers or possible rapists of Hindu women and the response that this politics of imagination puts forward is for Hindu men to emulate and (re)masculinize themselves. Rape of Muslim women and murder of Muslim men are legitimized as “revenge” and securing the Hindu Self. Baby Asifa’s rape and murder was not an opportunist crime, but a result of this politics of hatred that dehumanizes Muslims.
There is a famous saying that if you are not a solution to any problem, you yourself are a problem. We can’t blame only the system and politicians for anything going wrong with the society and country. Silence is complicity. We should speak up univocally against every crime be it smaller or bigger and have to join our hands together to fight the odds, above any religion and community. Moreover, supporting any perpetuator on account of his/her religion or any political party background further tears apart the social peace and harmony. As we have seen in Kathua case, a group of people led a march defending the accused with national anthem chanting and carrying national flag. Do they justify the crime done by them? It’s a matter of shame for the humanity. The biased opposition would lead us to nowhere. There are still more temples, and the rapist can find a new Asifa. Before this happens again, the culprits should be hanged as soon as possible to set an example and prevent such cases. Justice delayed is justice denied.
[SAMI UL GANI, M.Tech ECE & working for CEB Global (India), is basically a Kashmiri (south Kashmir) working in mainland India. Originally published by countercurrents.com]
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