Naseeruddin Shah

On a fresh autumn morning, I was going by an auto rickshaw to my college to give a brief summary or lecture on what really tension means for a biology student. It was the year 2016, when for the very first time I was introduced to the word “Intolerance” as a word which I should be scared about since it can make someone “terrorist”. Suddenly an orange army started to march before me on bikes and shouting slogans of a mythical God and people started slowing their vehicles and the feet stopped to be safe. For me, that was a perfect demonstration of tension and intolerance.

Just before that morning Arnab Goswami screened with headlines in capital letters as he very clearly stated that Jawaharlal Nehru University is an university of terrorists and anti – nationals. For a brief period, it appeared that may be Arnab was right, but right after that I saw Umar Khalid and his friends in the video tape showing anti national slogans and that brought me back to reality since Umar and me have been Facebook friends from a long time and he never posted anything which can limit India instead he tried and he still tries to magnify it before the whole world. I started gathering authentic reports since I have to stand before my students the very next day and I should give correct answers if they ask that whether “Umar and Kanhaiya are anti nationals or Not”! Authentic reports started providing me with some very simple reasons on why the campaign was organised: 1) Judicial Killing of Afzal Guru; 2) Killing of Kashmiris by the Occupying Forces; 3) Oppression of Adivasis by the Government. When I presented the authentic reports before some of my colleagues, students and friends, a group of political candidates started sending death threats which today I am very familiar with since I know in the present time people understands truth can harm nationalism. Death threats, just because of truth, is another perfect demonstration of intolerance in the nation.

Even after all that the government and the paid media stated that the students of JNU raised anti – national slogans but they never focused on the part where the court said that the video footage showing “Bharat Tere Tukre Honge” was doctored. It was the initiation of a fight against a government which believes in communal tension. It gave a foundation and helped many youngsters gain the courage to believe in rationality. Yesterday, when debates were going on over a simple comment of veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah which any thinking Indian would feel, that is, “India is intolerant and he is worried that if someone asks his son about his religion he won’t have any answer”. It was as simple as that but the comment helped many paid media channels like Republic TV, Zee News, India Today, Times Now, Aaj Tak etc., to bring back a three years long back JNU campaign as “an anti national campaign and Shah said nothing on that”. It is an irony that they didn’t focus on Shah’s comment, “Now in India, a cow is more precious than a police man”. He said it because a police officer in northern India was killed trying to calm a mob angered by reports that cows, regarded by Hindus as holy, had been slaughtered in the area and in judgement nothing came out as a result because what Shah said is the truth.

Pehlu Khan! Remember the name? He was was a victim of the same mob lynching over fake news of cow slaughter. An innocent citizen of our nation happening to spend his time with family and on his away he was brutally attacked by a Hindutva preaching mob to finally kill him on the spot. No arrests have been made, but police said they registered a murder case over the death of 55-year-old Pehlu Khan, whose truck carrying cattle was attacked by hundreds of vigilantes on Sunday while travelling in Alwar in the western state of Rajasthan. It was just the initiation of an era of lynching after which a Muslim teenager was killed in a train by a mob since they “thought” he had a pack of cow meat with him.

After that a Hindutva activist lynched a Muslim man brutally with belt, sword and then burnt him alive with his Facebook Live streaming the video. He was killed on the spot and right after that he stood as a political person from his area. He killed him and then throbbed his chest with comments streaming “Well Done”. Mob lynching didn’t end here. It started to induce inside the minds of the citizens who had a sympathetic corner for the people in power and they started to spread it in the name of “Gau Rakshaks” in each and every corner of our country. Even on the basis of a simple doubt, they started killing the minority groups in open. Nationalism became equal to Gau Rakshak. Yogi Adityanath made an open speech on his campaign where he open fired against the minority groups in the name of cow slaughtering. Not only Adityanath, even the saffron wearing politicians of each and every region made this agenda very clear. The vigilantism even initiated to spread among the extremists in the name of Love Jihad, where they beat, harass and kill any couple if they are involved in any kind of Hindu Muslim relationship (mainly happens if the boy is from the Muslim family). Love breaks barriers and today when it does it can lead to death of a person. For me, that’s intolerance which is exactly what Naseeruddin Shah said in his speech.

Now when the whole paid media party is against him since he blamed India as intolerant and the poison of communal tension has spread in open, I stand with him because it’s by no means I can say India is tolerant presently. The vigilantes of the present time are the ones who are responsible for the death of brave journalists like Gauri Lankesh, M.M. Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare who went against the government due to their rising oppression over the Dalits and the Muslims. Last September, as the journalist Gauri Lankesh was returning to her home from work, a man approached her in the driveway, his face obscured by a motorcycle helmet. He fired a pistol as she ran toward her house, about 10 feet away. She collapsed before she made it inside. Autopsy reports suggested she had been shot twice in the chest and once in the back. A fourth shot had missed or misfired. Other journalists were shot dead in the same manner and the arrests took place in secret. Gauri still waits for justice.

The paid media made a fun out of the delegates who returned their prestigious awards to show a mark of protest since they have only two weapons: A pen and activism. They did their part while the paid media showed them as hypocrites and named them as “Award Waapsi Gang”. In a country where a simple protest against the government can lead to death of five journalists within a month and can frame a whole university which protests against the barbarism happening over Adivasis and Kashmiris (minority) as anti – nationals in the name of nationalism, there we cannot expect tolerance to survive and what Shah said is the reality.

For me in the present time, India is intolerant because today if we stand for the Muslims to protest against the government and its vigilantes then we may be killed or arrested or framed as an anti – national. Today food is the biggest concern to prove nationalism. Now a mythical God is the most prominent way to gather votes and to be a brave citizen to protect it from the minority. It’s intolerant because a simple comment sparks a matter as anti national even after being a clear cut lie. One comment with truth as its content can send us to Pakistan and lastly, it’s intolerant because the intolerant mass of an intolerant nation goes intolerant if they are called as intolerant.

Kabir Deb is a published writer and poet. Born in Haflong and completed his Masters on Life Sciences from Assam University. His work has been published from different national and international magazine like Different Truths, Counter Currents, Reviews, Cafe Dissensus, Spillwords magazine and his works rely on political activism.

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  1. Saphire says:

    Country need people like Kabir Deb,people like him are the ethos that makes India united,despite the sick mentality of some…

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