Letters

The religion check

 

One disgusting feature of the Delhi riots is that they have given rise to an unsavoury situation in the violence-hit areas where communal mobs are asking law-abiding citizens for proof of their belonging to a particular religion. This not only poses a threat to the religious pluralism in our country but also impinges on the right of hundreds of thousands of non-believers to move around freely and fearlessly. Religion should be an extremely private affair. It is not a passport to travel across the country and outside. India is a secular, democratic country where religion is not even an essential prerequisite for anyone to live sociably with others. Having said that, the chronology of events leading to the communal violence in northeast Delhi reveals a shocking pattern of police inaction, indifference and excesses. The police acted to suit the interests of their political masters. At times, the Delhi police made themselves scarce, giving the rioters a free hand. At other times, they chose to ignore the hate speeches of Ministers and leaders from the ruling party (“Violence continues in Delhi for third day, toll climbs to 13,” Feb. 26).

Abdul Assis P.A.,

Thrissur, Kerala

The violence that raged across northeast Delhi for three days on end and left over 20 dead and 200 injured exposed the religious fault-lines and the fragility of the social fabric in our country. It was instigated by rabid right-wing fanatics like Kapil Mishra, Parvesh Mishra and Anurag Thakur. The inability of Hindutva hardliners and hate mongers to bear the sight of peaceful anti-CAA protests proved very costly in terms of lives. Communal rioting or sectarian violence of the kind we witnessed in Delhi is underpinned by religious hatred, something injected into herd-like people for political gain. Evidently the rioters identified members of a particular religious community by their names, dress and looks and targeted them with lethal weapons. They consciously spared those who could prove that they were their co-religionists. One reporter ‘caught’ filming the rioting escaped from the mob unhurt by reciting lines from Hindu scriptures.

The visuals of weak and vulnerable Muslims surrounded and hit by armed mobs did not jibe with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan, Sabka Vishvas. It is a nightmare situation that citizens’ survival and space hinge on their religious identity in our ‘secular democracy’.

No riot happens unless the state wants or allows it to happen. In other words, no riot happens without the consent, connivance, complicity or collusion — tacit or otherwise — of the state. The rioters are sock puppets driven to the streets by political manipulators masquerading as community leaders. Instead of preventing the eruption of riots and quelling them, the Delhi police stood watching them passively and manifested its partisanship. The Delhi High Court pulled up the police and deservedly so.

If the Delhi violence is anything to go by, we are treading on a perilous path. A nation divided against itself for whatever reason cannot be at peace with itself; it cannot progress and prosper. The antidote to the poison of religious hatred is a large dose of humanity.

G. David Milton

Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu

A web of self-aggravating factors exacerbated by fear and hatred led to communal violence in Delhi. The immediate priority should be to restore peace and harmony in the riot-hit areas. The painful exercise to reconcile differences and heal the wounds of violence demands an impartial and fearless look at the contributing factors. While police laxity and polarised Delhi Assembly election campaign led to the build-up of a climate of suspicion and fear, one has to acknowledge that belligerent posturing and sloganeering witnessed in the course of the protracted anti-CAA protests have unnecessarily inflamed passions by stoking exaggerated fears about the government’s motives. The protesters must introspect on the wisdom of imposing their grievances, both real and imaginary, on the society far beyond what neutral observers may approve as fair and reasonable and that too in disruptive ways. They must sense the dangers of fringe elements hijacking the protests to further divisive agendas. A suspension of the protests is imperative to restore peace. If the opposition is only in respect of a single law, why not wait for judicial adjudication?

V.N. Mukundarajan,

Thiruvananthapuram

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 12:03:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/the-religion-check/article30925519.ece

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