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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 43 New Delhi October 15, 2016

Hope flickers in the midst of Darkness

Sunday 16 October 2016, by SC

EDITORIAL

The RSS-controlled Narendra Modi administration in New Delhi is taking major strides in implementing the issues which were characterised as ‘contentious’ and kept in abeyance during the A.B. Vajpayee Government’s tenure at the Centre from 1998 to 2004.

The three contentious issues not touched by Vajpayee and his team were: (i) building a Ram temple at Ayodhya; (ii) abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution relating to special status for Kashmir; and (iii) introducing a Uniform Civil Code by doing away with the Muslim Personal Law. There is a strong apprehension among dominant sections of Muslims that the latest move by the authorities to scrap Islamic personal laws on the ground of gender justice is actually intended to implement the BJP’s communal agenda, an apprehension which cannot be dismissed lightly. It is in this context that the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB)’s statement today—that the Union Government was seeking to trigger an “internal war” by attempting to scarp Islamic personal laws—must be comprehended in full measure. That the BJP move is part of the party’s communal policy is beyond question.

As the AIMPLB asserts, “All communities have different customs and traditions. Our Constitution accepts that. It’s a dangerous idea to treat them with a single yardstick. We oppose it.”

Having won absolute majority in the Lok Sabha in the 2014 parliamentary poll, the ruling party is going ahead with its diabolic anti-Muslim course even if the veneer of gender justice aims to conceal that objective.

Meanwhile jingoism on the Indo-Pak front is being continually propagated by the BJP leaders and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has emerged as a major proponent of this line. This too is highly dangerous from the secular standpoint and our national interest.

Against this backdrop what is most encouraging is a statement issued by women journalists, members of the South Asian Women in Media (SAWM), condemning the escalating war hysteria in both Pakistan and India as well as all kinds of violence in word and deed. They have demanded that the “governments and political leaders of both countries play a responsible role” and have urged “our colleagues in the media to play their role as responsible journalists and work towards de-escalating rather than fanning tensions”.

While calling upon Pakistan and India “to de-escalate tensions and immediately begin the process of diplomatic engagement through dialogue to address their respective concerns” they have proposed that “Kashmir and Kashmiris must be included in this process” since the “undivided state of Jammu and Kashmir is not a piece of real estate to be squabbled over but concerns the lives and aspirations of the people who live there”.

In the midst of the enveloping darkness hope flickers in the subcontinent through this statement which has once again affirmed the role of people in restoring sanity in South Asia.

October 13 S.C.