Speaking Out! 

hapur victim dragged lynching

How is anyone responsible for being born where he/she has been and the identity attached to his/her personality primarily because of his/her birth? Whatever is any person’s identity, why is any bias being practiced towards him/her primarily because of this? But this is still happening at this very moment. Prospects of this inhumane trend coming to an end in near future seem extremely dim. As you read this, thousands, probably millions, are suffering abuse in numerous parts of the world; socially, politically, legally, culturally, economically, physically and in probably countless other ways for no fault of theirs.

What an irony, on one hand, the world is assumed to be heading towards great progress. At the same time, inhumane, brutal violence is only pushing practically greater part of humanity backwards. The latter include the targeted as well as ones targeting them. Former include ones losing lives, limbs, livelihood, institutions supporting them, shelters, basic amenities and so much more. How can the ones pushing them to this stage be viewed as “progressive,” “democratic” or even humane from any angle?

This is hardly welcome from any angle and sounds uncanny. But this has happened and is happening. Numerous villages and cities with their inhabitants have been victimized, in the name of removing leaders from countries for citizens’ “welfare”. One wonders, as to what should this labelled as? This hardly marks “wonders” which nuclear prowess can spell and lead to. But yes, this certainly has pushed numerous fairly well-off communities to the stage of struggling for survival. So, does status of becoming the most important “power” with greatest “prowess” possible imply killing, maiming and depriving a considerable part of humanity even access to what they are entitled to. This isn’t what democracy is supposed to spell in any form. But it is and why blame only key powers as even other countries, including India, display similar trend within their own territories.

Communal bias keeps displaying its tentacles in India by targeting people on ground of their caste, religion, class and even region. Even Christmas celebrations were not spared with Christians’ religious sentiments abused in some parts. Individuals and/or groups continue being victimized through riotous violence because of their being Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, from backward classes and/or for not being politically, socially or culturally “favoured”. Surely, this is not what a “democratic”, “secular” country is expected to promote. Rather, these threaten weakening of these values.

Unfortunately, key power-holders in this country seem to display barely any concern for communal victimization. They apparently are more concerned for electoral gains from Hindu majority community. Political drive of communal nature is being propagated through various channels to agitate people and polarize them against each other. One saving grace is that majority in this country have not chosen to adhere to similar communal moves despite attempts being made to agitate them. Briefly, economic as well as humane concerns have prevailed over majority preventing them from being manipulated towards riotous behaviour. Even a minor communal incident leading to curfews, closure of markets, etc spells economic loss for all in the area. Not surprisingly, greater tendency is being displayed to indulge in fanatic behaviour which does not harm favoured sections. Whether it is through hate-propaganda spread via speeches, mobiles, abusing minorities’ religious sentiments or any other means, the key idea apparently is to keep communal venom “alive”.  True, political aspirations banking on communal hatred cannot be viewed as democratic, secular and/or religious? Tragically, notion of according some “legitimacy” to such venom is being attempted.

Against the backdrop of nuclear, economic and/or political strength (malice), which has failed to aid spread of genuine democracy, some still write and speak questioning torture engineered by former. The number of the latter is limited and they are virtually ignored by media in general. If western media is confined to its own world, occasionally taking note of largely negative incidents elsewhere; Indian media has begun being viewed as “paid” dominated by manufactured news to propagate positive image of power-holders.

Ironically, Covid-punch has taught a hard lesson to all. It as well as other ailments display no bias in lashing out. Also, let’s not forget that blood groups and medical treatment are not categorized racially, politically, culturally or along any such division. The message is simple. The fault lies with those who support and practice bias. The fault lies in viewing others through a tainted, prejudiced lens. To this date, back home (India) or outside I have not refrained from voicing my stand against discrimination and similar practices. I refuse to be silenced and will not be.

So what if I am a Muslim, a woman, a brown hailing from a Third World country and professionally a journalist. Why should I fear any government, politician or just any group/leader and choose not to voice my stand on issues which concern me? And this includes key power-holders in major democracies as well as select groups patronizing them and being supported by them. I retain my right as an individual and expect to be considered as one rather than be viewed through lenses tainted by any discriminatory bias!

Nilofar Suhrawardy is a senior journalist and writer with specialization in communication studies and nuclear diplomacy. She has come out with several books. These include:– Modi’s Victory, A Lesson for the Congress…? (2019); Arab Spring, Not Just a Mirage! (2019), Image and Substance, Modi’s First Year in Office (2015) and Ayodhya Without the Communal Stamp, In the Name of Indian Secularism (2006).

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