Millennium Post
Editorial

Triumph of hate?

The gruesome murder of Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur is a big blot on India's secular outlook and its age-old legacy of communal coexistence. It is difficult to see the murder purely through the lens of a legal crime, as the killers' misplaced intent to 'defend Islam' was enunciated in the clearest terms. There's no doubt that the killers deserve strictest punishment allowed under law but one must not err to put the entire blame of the ongoing communal frenzy only upon the two persons. The communal cauldron we have dragged ourselves into is a culmination of years of religious bigotry practiced by individuals and institutions holding extremist ideologies. Being in majority, and emboldened by a majority-appeasing government, a faction of extremist Hindus has been unleashing terror upon the Muslim community — through words, and sometimes in action. Now that extremists from the Muslim community are reciprocating heinously, a win-win situation appears to have been created for the divisive forces who stand to gain politically or otherwise from the communal rift. For someone to win, some other must lose! Unfortunately, on the losing side are the people of India — including Hindus and Muslims collectively. It must explicitly be made clear that we have not yet reached a point of mass fanaticism, but we may soon do so if we fail in our responsibility of countering hate through love. The two murderers are said to be associated with a particular religious group and their actions can't be generalised to entire Muslim community. Unfortunately, this already appears to have been done directly or indirectly. Even before detailed specifics of killers started coming out, many among Muslim community and secular Hindus began responding with a veiled spirit of justification and an inexplicable sense of emergency. Has India regressed back to the point where more than the crime, the religion, caste and creed of the criminal becomes important? If yes, it needs to be ascertained who have led us to this disgraceful situation. Particular incidents of violence — be it from a Hindu bigot or a Muslim — can no longer be seen in isolation. The tensile environment will have to be factored in. Violence is in the air and one can feel it on his/her skin. Alfred Hitchcock once said, though in a very different context, "there is no terror in the bang, it is in the anticipation of it." To be living with a persistent sense of fear and retribution is not the fate that Indians deserve. It is too big a cost to serve the political opportunism of a selected few. Politics can be a medium of positive change but when it itself becomes a vehicle of hate propagation, then the responsibility of countering it through love and mutual understanding comes down to the citizens — the ultimate masters. The state, at the same time, cannot abdicate its responsibility of maintaining law and order. Rajasthan police failed badly in heeding to the warning presented by Kanhaiya Lal himself. It couldn't understand the gravity of the problem. Udaipur killing is a hurting lesson for police across India to accord due importance to cases related to communal conflicts. The state machinery needs to come out of the farcical notion of communal harmony — things have changed in reality and they must be accepted. The Rajasthan government swiftly brought the situation under control but the lost life won't turn back! Considering the hurt sentiments of the people, Rajasthan CM has appealed for peace from protestors. With due respect to the people genuinely aggrieved by the incident, Rajasthan government must take firm action against those deliberately inflating the sensitive issue to gain political mileage. It is shameful that certain groups are hell bent on political game-scoring — even if it leads to worsening of the situation on the ground. It is hoped that the state government will maintain its swiftness towards delivering justice to the kins of Kanhaiya Lal. Also, people who may be vulnerable to such attacks must be provided due protection. Primary intent of the murderers, in the guise of defending Islam, was to terrorise people. Thanks to the weakened communal fabric of our country, their purpose is partly served. Udaipur killing should prompt people to reflect upon the direction they are led towards. If it fails to do so, people should brace up for more.

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