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Nadir of Indian politics

The mindless killing of a UP policeman shows the worrying times we live in, where no individual, choice or freedom is safe anymore

Nadir of Indian politics

Reading the newspaper is growing increasingly depressing these days. If the numerous instances of rape and violence weren't enough to make one feel a deep sense of insecurity, now even the protectors of law are not safe. The recent killing of a policeman in Uttar Pradesh by alleged cow vigilantes has taken law and order matters to an all-time low. If the police can't protect itself, then who will protect us?

Politics in India has hit its nadir. Never before has such an acute sense of hopelessness engulfed entire generations, across communities and states, religions and gender. A cow has more rights today than a human being. I'm all for cows, they are lovely creatures with beautiful eyes and the capacity to sustain humans with myriad offerings. However, I am also for the freedom of Indians to decide what they eat and why. I also understand religious freedoms and the need to protect the desires of a majority community. For years, we had been able to maintain a balance that kept all sections and religions of this diverse country happy. What has gone so terribly wrong in the last few years that has jolted this quiet peace and tolerance?

I keep repeating this childhood memory. In the Park Circus area of Calcutta, a curious balance held sway, and thankfully, still does. Within the radius of a couple of kilometres, there are mosques, churches, temples gurudwaras; as are beef, pork, mutton, fish and poultry meat-sellers. There is a palatial Hindu temple patronised by the most chaste Hindu Marwaris and within a stone's throw, there are restaurants selling all kinds of meat. People choose where they eat and where they pray. There is freedom and no one (at least so far) has tried to force its will on the other.

But the truth is, we need to ask ourselves how we want India to be? This should not be dictated to us by our politicians, whose motivations are fuelled by political gains. Do we want to live in a country where one person's freedom is impinged upon at the cost of another? Do we want to be a part of a country where the protectors of law will be so scared of their own well-being that they will not uphold the law? Do we want to live an atmosphere of hate and fear? The Bulandshahr incident, unfortunately, shows everything that is going wrong in India; where a probe initiated first the carcass of the cow rather than the killing of SHO Subodh Kumar!

And let us also acknowledge that people like Yogesh Raj, the main accused behind the mob violence and killing of the policeman and another civilian, is a jobless youth. Thousands of such jobless youngsters are on the payrolls of several political parties. In the absence of meaningful employment and perhaps, also because of the ease of such militant political activism, these youngsters of this great nation of ours, are resorting to crime and violence in the name of religion and politics. This is the other side of the new India that is also a leading start-up hub in the world.

This dichotomy between two opposing sides of the same nation is hard to swallow. And that is why I reiterate that the choice lies safely in our hands. It is we who should dictate how our country should be. It is up to us to tell the powers that we are still a democracy and have always been a peaceful, tolerant country. The power in a democracy is in the hands of its people. But if we choose to whitewash what are clearly dark blemishes in our nation's present, we are doing a grave injustice to the idea of India. An idea that was honed, built and nurtured for centuries. If we are so blind and completely naïve of the political game that is being so deftly played against us, that time won't be far when we will fail to even recognise this country of our forefathers.

(The writer is a journalist and media entrepreneur. The views expressed are strictly personal)

Shutapa Paul

Shutapa Paul

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