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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 26 New Delhi June 18, 2016

Need of the Hour: Secular-Democratic Unity

Saturday 18 June 2016, by SC



Much is being written these days about the functioning of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Capital and the way the Congress is being run across the nation.

But that is no reason why the ruling party at the Centre should be left off the hook as is being done by sizeable sections of the media. The BJP, which won a surprise absolute majority in the Lok Sabha in 2014, has been acting in an authoritarian way for the last two years while trying to divide the country and its people on communal lines despite mouthing such slogans as ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’ and stressing on development in a bid to camouflage its divisive agenda. This came out in full view of all at the party’s recently held National Executive meet at Allahabad. While PM Narendra Modi harped on development and projected the BJP-ruled States as models of development, BJP chief Amit Shah went ahead to announce the ‘exodus’ of Hindus from Kairana (located in the same State of UP as Allahabad) to stoke the communal faultlines. It was a blatant display of the majoritarian offensive which came out in bolder relief with the BJP MP from Shamli, Hukum Singh, releasing “Kairana se palayan karnewale Hindu parivaron ki soochi (List of Hindu families fleeing Kairana)”, and claiming that 346 “Hindus” had left the place over “threats and extortion by criminal elements belonging to a particular community”.

Several newspapers, notably The Indian Express, carried out an investigation and found many flaws in Hukum Singh’s list “including names of persons who have died and those who left more than 10 years ago for a better school for their children, or a better job”.

UP DGP Javeed Ahmed, while speaking to The Hindu, said:

Kairana is a town that got left behind in the development path, therefore people started moving to other industrial townships... like Rohtak, Sonipat and even Delhi. This is a socio-economic demographic change, part of a larger pull that industrial cities and metropolitan cities have. To link it to crime or the communal problem would be very incorrect.

Interestingly, Hukum Singh subsequently changed his tune, saying he intended to highlight a law-and-order and not a Hindu-Muslim problem. But in the light of the DGP’s assertion even that is turning out to be false.

Meanwhile The Hindu came across a heart-warming truth of Hindu-Muslim unity while trying to verify Hukum Singh’s list of victims of exodus: the reporter of the newspaper came face-to-face with a 42-year-old Muslim woman who had to flee her home in Lisadh village during the 2013 riots when it was a Hindu family which had given her family shelter by taking them as tenants.

It is these incidents that give the lie to Hindu-Muslim enmity which the BJP is assiduously seeking to promote and heighten to consolidate the Hindu vote-bank in its favour as it did in Muzaffarnagar in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha poll in UP.

If all secular-democratic forces stand up as a rock to highlight Hindu-Muslim amity, as seen in the above incident, Modi-Amit Shah’s nefarious designs can be defeated. But for that to happen secular-democratic unity is the need of the hour.

June 16 S.C.

o o o

As we go to press, the country has lost two veteran journalists—Krishan Kumar Katyal, 89, who passed away on June 8, 2016; and Inder Malhotra, 86, who breathed his last on June 11, 2016.

Katyal, known to many of his friends and admirers as KKK, was an ace political reporter and correspondent who worked in The Statesman (Delhi), Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) and The Hindu (Delhi). He was the Chief of Bureau of The Hindu in New Delhi when it started its publication from the Capital in the 1980s. He specialised in foreign affairs.

Inder Malhotra was not only an outstanding newsman but one of the most brilliant chroniclers of our times. He worked in The Statesman,The Times of India and wrote columns in national and international papers. He has written and published a large number of books. He specialised in defence, nuclear and foreign affairs.

Mainstream mourns the departure of these two stalwarts in journalism and sends heartfelt condolences to their bereaved family members.

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