October 3, 2020

Has India become intolerant?

Intolerance is the unwillingness and refusal to tolerate others’ views and actions. India,the world’s largest democracy is home to 1.2 billion people that boasts of diversity in culture, religions and languages. The nation has in it’s Constitution incorporated the important concepts of secularism, freedom of speech, rule of law etc but over the few years, everywhere intolerance in terms of religious beliefs and dissent has grown at an exponential level as reports about incidents of mob lynching, silencing voices go unnoticed on a regular basis. The biggest tragedy as one would thought is that the attackers enjoy support of the ruling class. In 2014,when the BJP led NDA government took over the reigns of power, the fears of intolerance grew even stronger as it has been the supporter of so called Hinduta agenda. As per a report by pew research Centre, India ranks as the worst country when it comes to religious freedom. While India has always shown respect to religious diversity, but it has grown intolerant since 2014 when BJP took over the reigns of power in Delhi In it’s 2014 election manifesto, it pledged to increase “protection and promotion of cow and its progeny”. This promise encouraged a lot of hindu fundamentalists to massacre several muslims merely on suspicion of beef eating. Not even a single case has been registered against these mobs, in lieu the ministers of modi led govt have many a times praised these Lynchers. In 2015,a mob of villagers attacked the home of 52 year old Mohammed Akhlaq, killing him, for suspicion of slaughtering a cow. The attack took place at night, on 28 September 2015 in Bisara village, near Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, India. The mob consisting of local villagers, attacked Akhlaq’s house with sticks, bricks and knives, saying that they found him stealing and slaughtering a cow and a calf. The mob was never questioned but instead one of the main accused in Dadri lynching case was nominated by one of the political party for elections. In terms of freedom of speech, India in no ways has done better. The present ruling dispensation in India believes in silencing secular and liberal voices who they feel are a threat to their immediate implementation of an autocratic State. Even some judges of the country’s highest law interpreting body have protested against the moves to dub dissenters as anti- nationals.

The ideology of ”hyper nationalism” has created a mess all over the country and the ruling dispensation has left no stone unturned to support this absurd ideology and in the meantime India is in chaos.

The most recent examples of peaceful voices being silenced are the protests over CAA and NRC which in technical terms is discriminatory. Govt has quelled the voices of peace loving people and dissent and those trying exercise the right to protest have been labeled as Anti-Nationals .The peaceful protests also known as Shaheen Bagh protests were the largest non-violent protests that India has witnessed after 1947.These protests couldn’t be borne by BJP as it used the slew of draconian measures to silence these voices. Students, writers and many intellectuals were booked under criminal laws like UAPA and NSA. Even the voices that were raised against these draconian laws was muzzled. There have been ample instances where journalists, activists, and students were booked literally for nothing. In April 2020,a Kashmir based female journalist was booked under the unlawful activities prevention act (UAPA)over her social media posts that police said were “Anti-national”. On 2nd April, the Delhi Police had arrested Meeran Haider, a Ph D student at the University of Jamia Millia Islamia and media coordinator of the Jamia Coordination Committee. Days later, Safoora Zargar, an MPhil student at the same University was arrested for allegedly obstructing the road near the Jaffrabad metro station. Both remain in detention Both the students, Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar, have also been charged for the offences of sedition, murder, attempt to murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and rioting. There is a growing chorus of stifling meaningful and peaceful voices in India. The ideology of ”hyper nationalism” has created a mess all over the country and the ruling dispensation has left no stone unturned to support this absurd ideology and in the meantime India is in chaos.
( The author is a freelancer. Views are his own) [email protected]

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