Buddhism facts

Confronting the facts about communal violence in India

Hate and bigotry feed off each other. They sprout and flourish on a toxic regime of divisive and schismatic ideologies and polarizing beliefs that discriminate against human beings on the basis of color, region, gender, creed – and divide them between believers and unbelievers – pitting the elect against idolaters. .

Call to hate‘ by SY Quraishi (IE, April 15) has little to do with the anatomy of hate or its lingering malignity. Rather, it is an ad hominem attack on dispensation to power. A complex phenomenon has been oversimplified to fit into a convenient political narrative. The arguments are sadly familiar, the facts dubious and the conclusions delusional.

For eons, India has possessed syncretic traditions inspired by the Vedic aphorism, “Ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti” (there is only one truth and scholars call it by many names). Because of this foundation, Indian society has never insisted on uniformity in all facets of life. Indian philosophy is an assortment of varied ideas and traditions – sometimes incongruous, but always part of a harmonious milieu.

This equanimity of Indian society was however disturbed by pervasive beliefs claiming only their God, and his messenger were true, and the rest were false and worthy of destruction, along with their followers and places of worship.

The first such foray was in 712, when Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh and, as a contemporary Arabic chronicle Chach Nama states, introduced the practice of treating local Hindus as zimmis, forcing them to pay the jizya (a poll tax), as a penalty. live by their beliefs. “Hate” and “sectarianism” have thus entered India, hitherto free from this virus. Pakistan’s official website attributes this invasion to the birth of the country as an Islamic nation in the subcontinent.

In the 11th century, Mahmud of Ghazni, while receiving the honors of the caliphate upon his accession to the throne, took a vow to wage jihad every year against Indian idolaters. During his 32-year reign, he kept his solemn promise more than a dozen times. The rest is history.

But why go to the distant past? Sadly, the streak of hatred unleashed over a thousand years ago continues to haunt us even today. The past 100 or so years have seen the Moplah riots, partition and decimation of Hindus/Sikhs/Buddhists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Kashmir Valley. The recent planned attacks on Ram Navami processions in more than half a dozen states and the assault on the Hanuman Janamutsav rally have reminded us that the ogre of hate is alive and scathing.

Strange: As communal chaos unfolded in India, Muslim mobs fought pitched battles against police in dozens of cities in Spain, Sweden and the city of Jerusalem. In Sweden, Muslims have been agitated by blasphemy involving the Holy Quran. The protests in Spain are against the imprisonment of a rapper convicted of insulting the monarchy and advocating terrorist violence. While the issues surrounding these sordid episodes may differ, the pattern is common.

Were Hindu-Muslim relations peaceful in the past and deteriorated after 2014? The fact is that the ties between the two communities were rarely cordial. There were intermittent skirmishes, wars, and occasional short-lived opportunistic alliances. Is the current dispensation responsible for Muslim alienation? Remember, even Gandhi failed to wean Muslims from the schismatic movement of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

In the aftermath of Moplah violence and communal riots in several places in India, Gandhiji observed in Young India (May 24, 1924): “My own experience, but confirms the view that the Muslim as a rule is a tyrant, and the Hindu as a ruler is a coward”. Nothing much has changed since in the subcontinent.

Can the law or the police fight against hate? No. If they could, Kashmiri Hindus would not have gone through the hell they went through in the 1990s and would now be happy to return home. India is a secular democracy, not because of its Constitution. It’s the opposite. When Pakistan declared itself an Islamic Republic in 1947, it would have been natural for India to identify itself as a Hindu state. It did not, and could not have, because of its Hindu philosophy of pluralism. An India dominated by Hinduism is and always will be a Catholic, plural, myriad and dynamic democracy.

George Orwell said, “The relative freedom we enjoy depends on public opinion. The law is not a protection. Governments make laws, but their execution and the behavior of the police depend on the general temperament of the country”.

Can we fight hatred selectively? The burning of Graham Staines and his children is reprehensible. It was the same for the lynching of Akhlaq and Junaid. But why the trembling silence on the despicable assassination of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati and four of his disciples (August 2008) in Orissa for which seven Christians and a Maoist were condemned? More than a dozen Muslim BJP workers have been killed in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India in the recent past. These victims of hatred are, of course, ignored. Their deaths do not match the narrative.

The loaded reactions, punctuated by half-truths, deliberate omissions and bespoke narratives, offer no real solution. Pusillanimity in the face of facts will only exacerbate the situation and lead to glaring results. Ignorance is not always bliss.

In this context, it is pertinent to recall what Lester Pearson (14th PM of Canada) said: “Misunderstanding stemming from ignorance breeds fear, and fear remains the greatest enemy of peace. »

This column first appeared in the print edition of April 21, 2022 under the title “Ignorance is not bliss”. The writer is a former MP and columnist