Fringe or Mainstream

nupur sharma 1

In the recent act following Nupur Sharma’s statement on Prophet Mohammad, the BJP acted against her by suspending her from Party’s membership. This was after there was reaction by Middle Eastern countries. The BJP in its statement pointed that “The BJP strongly denounces insults of any religious personalities of any religion. The BJP is also against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion. The BJP does not promote such people or philosophy”. The events on the ground only indicate things contrary to what the BJP issued in its statement.

The statement by Nupur Sharma was only an extension of hate already mainstreamed and incentivised by the party in power. It pointed that she is a ‘fringe element’. The reality is that over the years the ‘fringe elements’ have become the mainstream. The following processes have happened in the last few years.

Mainstreaming of hate speeches:

The recent years have seen mainstreaming of hate speeches by top BJP leaders. Statements such as ‘people can be identified by their cloths’, ‘press button with such anger that Shaheen bagh feels the current’; ‘traitors of the country, kill them with bullets (desh ke gaddaro ko, goli maaro salo ko), ‘if they take one of our girls, we will take hundreds of theirs’. Expression of religious hate now no longer remains part of internal confines but have become a part of public speeches. This is by the mainstream party leaders and not in the gathering of ‘Dharm Sansads’ where the hate statements may go to further extremity.

Mainstreaming of hate debates in Mainstream Media:

Debates on religious hate have become part of the primetime debates in mainstream media referred by the term ‘godi media’. Communalisation of anchors and debates around ‘Hindutva’ set agendas such as Mandir-Masjids, Hindu-Muslim, Hijaab, Halaal, Azan, Loudspeaker, Islamic Terrorism, Pakistan have become normal. Expression of hate by anchors and the invited panellists have become commonplace. It is not uncommon watching party spokesperson’s commenting in a way that demeans other religion and personalities from other religion. At the receiving end of hate may also be Bollywood personalities such as Khans & Akhtars or visionary social activists such as Umar Khalid or Sharjeel Imam based on their religious identity.

Mainstreaming of incentivisation of hate:

It is not uncommon where hate has been incentivised. A hate speech raises the ranks of the person within the party. It is seen as a short cut to grow within the party. There are many such leaders who have grown in India’s largest party through such hate speeches. The raise of Anurag Thakurs, Kapil Mishras, Parvesh Vermas, Raja Singh’s can be attributed to this process.

Mainstreaming of hate curriculum:

In the recent years there has been talk of rewriting history. The rewriting devoid of a scientific process is aimed at glorification of Hindu past, description of past as a fight of Hindu vs. Muslim. At the core is also an attempt at introducing hate into the curriculum to study India’s past. In this are efforts to depict Mughals and other Muslim rulers as mass murderers and depicting Hindu rulers as victors in major battles. In this is also removal of text from curriculum of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse. The history rewriting project has an inherent attempt to promote hate.

Mainstreaming hate through digital technologies:

Digital technologies have been used to mainstream hate. This is through use of social media platforms such as facebook, twitter, whaatsapp by Hindutva groups. The emergence of Whaatsapp university has also meant penetration of hate messages which brings divides not only across religions but within families, friends, colleagues and neighbourhoods. Such platforms are followed by the leaders and hate messages promoted by IT cell. Emergence of platforms such as ‘Bulli bai’ app is only a result of creation of such hate environment by mainstream leaders.

This is not to point that hate promotion happens in mainstream only by BJP which projects itself as representing majority. This may also happen among mainstream parties such as MIM which projects itself as representing minority. The speech of Akbaruddin Owaisi in 2012 is well known. The point is such ‘hate’ speeches by anyone only disturb the social harmony among religious communities.

Hence whether it is the ‘fringe’ or ‘mainstream’ no longer stands to truth. Hate has become a part of the mainstream. Hence condemning hate whether it is by ‘fringe’ or ‘mainstream’ is important. The recent BJP statement and actual situation on the ground only show a duplicity.

T Navin is an independent writer


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