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Mainstream, VOL LII No 37, September 6, 2014

Mother India beckons us All

Saturday 6 September 2014, by Nikhil Chakravartty

From N.C.’s Writings

After forty years of the foundation of our independent republic, the Frankenstein has appeared again—the monster that is out to destroy democracy and plunge this nation into civil war that shall rend asunder thousands of towns and villages of this great country.

The term communalism does not convey the gravity of the crisis that confronts us today—let it be bluntly stated that what we face today is the demon of Hindu-Muslim hatred. Over a large part of this land, particularly in the northern States, straddles today this monstrous hatred of the majority Hindu—the Muslim must be subjugated and, if unbending, then liquidated. In response to that, the minority Muslim, in deadly despair, tried to hit back as a means of survival.

The map of India today is dotted with bloodstains—bloodstains of brothers fighting brothers. Bhagalpur, Bijnore, Hyderabad, Aligarh and Kanpur have today turned into not only the disgrace points but danger signals for India’s nationhood. The rule of the knife and the bomb has taken over from the so-called guardians of law and order. At every one of these places—and many others like Varanasi and Meerut are also coming under the spotlight of the media—frenzied hatred has been spread with cynical design to arouse the flames of insensate violence in which neighbours of yesterday have butchered one another and the administration itself got involved in the orgy.

It does not require any academic research to point the finger at the agitation over the temple-mosque controversy at Ayodhya for having polluted the political environment in which communal antipathy has become the order of the day. And once the winds of hatred spread, the flames of violence have caught on unimpeded. The BJP leaders plead innocence, that their plea was for the building of the Ram temple only, but they cannot exonerate themselves from the responsibility of having unleashed forces that have taken to murder and loot. Inevitably, the minority community, faced with such a grim situation, has at places hit back, which has only provided impetus for the fundamentalists in their camp. Hence, mutual hatred spread far and wide.

The time is over for the ideologues of the BJP to come out with the thesis that Islam does not fit into the national mould. They have to realise that the ponderous labour spent in building up such a thesis is being put to good use by those indulging in killing and looting in the frenzy of communal violence. This has also helped the bigots in the Muslim community in their communal campaign. All the prattle about pseudo-secularism has only added grist to the mill of those who are wielding the long knife in the dark night that has descended over a large stretch of this beautiful land of ours.

For leaders of major political parties, too, this is the hour of truth. The hands of many of them can hardly be regarded as clean as they too in the past have sometime or the other indulged in pampering communal urges to secure votes, and quite a few in their respective camps are ready to do so again, once the elections are on the agenda. That is a matter for them to settle with their conscience. What matters today above everything else is that the beast of communal hatred has been let loose and is playing havoc. If this ghastly apparition is allowed to roam about unchecked, there shall be no question of democratic functioning, no elections to legislatures and Parliament, no civil liberties, but the drum-beat of communal fury with goose-step marching of the hatchet-gangs out to destroy civilised conduct of public life.

The disintegration of this republic of ours threatens us in a manner never seen before. The Valley of Kashmir and the fertile fields of Punjab have virtually come under the grip of secessionists. The political base camp of patriotic elements in Kashmir has been swept away by the avalanche of bitter alienation for which all parties in power in the past have to share equal responsibility. In Punjab, all the official assurances about Khalistani terrorists being on the run, has turned out to be so much poppycock as one finds the terrorist killer literally gagging the media even to the point of silencing the government’s radio and television news in Hindi.

This threat of imminent disintegration can be rebuffed not just be despatching the Army but, more importantly, by mobilising the entire nation for a determined endeavour to win back the trust and confidence of those alienated. The responsibility for summoning such a national mobilisation rests irrevocably on the wisdom and patriotism of leaders of all political parties.

At this crossroads of India’s destiny, we put this question to our leaders of all parties, those in office and those outside: Can you not bury your hatchets and join hands to stir the vast multitude of this great nation so that the fiendish forces of communal hatred are put down and chased out of our public life for good? This is the moment when your patriotism needs to be tested. Let all other differences and squabbles, allergies and misunderstandings, be set aside, and all, really all, together come forward at the call of the nation.

For heaven’s sake, join hands and march shoulder to shoulder to fight the enemy that has entered the gates. Mother India beckons us all.  

(The Telegraph, December 16, 1990)