Speech Melba Columns

If it’s evil, it’s not us

It is so much easier and happier when everyone else but us is in the wrong

A few days ago, I had an interesting chat with a gentleman; let’s call him H, a huge BJP supporter. H told me he was deeply disappointed with the party; that they had conclusively proven they were clueless about economics, policy or governance. But, said H, he would still vote BJP because, Hindutva. In 2014, I remember the same people insisting they were voting for progress, development and administration. In 2020, it is a relief to see they no longer have to keep up the pretence.

H and his ilk will never forgive corruption or a failing economy or poor administration in any political party that dares to treat all religions as equal. But if the political party’s avowed aim is Hindutva, then suddenly, they don’t really care where the jobs are or if every single high-value contract steadily goes to a single company.

Anyway, a few days ago, I mailed H the names of the 13 Navy personnel, all Hindus, who have been arrested for spying for Pakistan. His response? “They were greedy and stupid. Not evil. This distinction must be made.” I asked if he would make this distinction if the names had been Muslim or Christian. He hasn’t replied yet.

And therein lies the crux. Neither criminality nor evil has a religion, but as long as we convince ourselves that being Hindu somehow absolves us of all criminality but being Muslim makes us intrinsically evil, we will carry the burden of communal bias with us to the grave.

Let us fast forward to the violence that broke out in Delhi this week. Ask yourself why a CAA protest that was peaceful for months would turn into a violent conflagration immediately after a BJP member named Kapil Mishra marched with a mob to a protest site and blatantly declared, with a smiling policeman standing next to him, “After Trump leaves, not even the police can stop us. Either you stop the protest or else.”

The slogans shouted, the colour of the flags raised, the identifying of victims by religion, the religious shrines attacked — there are videos and photos and ground reports that testify to all of this. But none of it will matter. Because if you are Hindu and you commit a crime, you are blinded by passion or you are provoked or you’re angry or it is in self-defence — but you are never communal and you are never biased and you are never, ever evil.

In Delhi this week, both Hindus and Muslims have been killed and injured and had their property destroyed. But as the days and the WhatsApp forwards and the TV programmes unfold, one thing will soon become absolutely clear to all of us. Every Hindu victim we will find was attacked by bloodthirsty, communal, religious bigots whose only aim is to destroy Hindus and break up India. All other victims? Mere collateral damage.

So, what provoked us peaceful Hindus to inflict this erm... collateral damage? The CAA protest. And why should that be? Isn’t Delhi immune to protests by now? Marches for Nirbhaya, vigils for Jessica Lal, millions of farmers squatting, Dalit marches, Section 377 parades… the list is endless. Surely they could have ignored this one, too?

Ah, but you forget. This protest was by Muslims. How dare a minority community that is here on our sufferance protest? How dare they keep it peaceful? How dare their ‘backward’ women find a voice? How dare they sing the national anthem and raise the tricolour? How dare they include inter-faith songs and prayers? How dare their leaders speak like statesmen and advise peace and non-violence?

Every demonising stereotype so carefully cultivated around the community over the last few years was systematically broken by the CAA protests. And that is why Delhi had to burn.

In the ensuing mayhem, we can always get away with murder because we are Hindu (and the cops are with us), but over the coming weeks we will be able to frame a hundred TV programmes that satisfyingly condemn and label everyone else as terrorists, anti-nationals and criminals. Once all the stereotypes are thus re-established, we will be able to happily return to the moribund economy and Melania Trump’s designer sherwani and our morally pure lives, convinced that we can never do wrong.

Where the writer tries to make sense of society with seven hundred words and a bit of snark.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 9:41:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/on-the-ongoing-anti-caa-protests-and-violence-in-new-delhi/article30941756.ece

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