“Why have you not written anything about the Dadri killing? Why are you silent on the murder of Muhammad Akhlaq?” That’s the question which I’ve been encountering from my colleagues since the past few days. So far I had replied to it by stating, “The world has written about it. Writers who are far superior to me have expressed their disgust at what happened in Dadri. I don’t think that I have anything more to add.”
Just when you start feeling that way, one comes across an opinion piece in The Indian Express written by BJP Rajya Sabha MP Tarun Vijay in which he says, “The violent reactions of the Dadri kind must remain an aberration. They raise a question for so-called liberal Muslims: Have you done anything to show Hindus that you stand with them when they are assaulted by the Andrabis? Muslim silence on Hindu woes is often taken as support for intolerant Islamists.”
It’s hard to decipher whether the statement quoted above was written by a Twitter troll or a Rajya Sabha MP. When will we learn to not politicise communal riots and hate crimes? We cannot justify violence by citing another incident of violence. What happened in Gujarat in 2002 under the BJP government in the state was a national disgrace. Equally shameful were the 1984 anti-Sikh riots when the Congress was in command at the Centre. The BJP and Congress can score political brownie points over one another by pitching one riot against the other, but the fact of the matter is that there can be no justification for either of them.
What does Mr Vijay exactly mean when he talks about “Hindu woes”? Does he mean to say that Muslims have never stood up for their Hindu brothers? We don’t need religion to stand up against the injustices in our society. As someone who feels deeply ashamed of the everyday violence which our society unleashes, as an Indian, and as a Muslim, I have tried to write against every atrocity which I’ve come across.
Mr Vijay, I have written about the ethnic cleansing which forced the Kashmiri Pandits out of their homes in the Valley. I hold the Islamist terrorists responsible for killing the Pandits and burning their homes. I realise the need for bringing the Pandits back to the Valley and providing them a sense of justice by prosecuting all those who were responsible for forcing them into exile.
Not only Hindus, I have tried to speak up for everyone who, I feel, has been wronged and discriminated against, be it Coptic Christians in Egypt or minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia. I have criticised the anti-Semitic Arab discourse and the ludicrous conspiracy theories associated with 9/11. I won’t even hesitate for a second before condemning terrorist outfits like the Al Qaeda, Islamic State (ISIS), Taliban and Boko Haram because no sane person can ever justify the killing of innocent men, women and children.
I recognise the fact that many Muslim emperors destroyed Hindu temples and forcefully converted many non-Muslims to Islam. But I also know what is being done to Muslims in Myanmar and I won’t remain quiet about it just like I didn’t about the Hashimpura massacre, Babri Masjid demolition or misogynist personal laws. Injustice is injustice no matter it’s done when, where or to whom.
Mr Vijay, kindly do not behave like a Twitter troll who absconds from the core of the debate whenever one writes about right-wing Hindu extremism and challenges one to instead write about despotic Muslim emperors, ISIS or Kashmiri Pandits. I don’t need Modi bhakts to tell me what objectivity is. I try to live by it. But then so many bhakts write to me telling me they know exactly what I am going to write after reading my byline.
But that doesn’t dishearten me. It only gives me an insight into their sickening mindset. My name doesn’t make me different. Your mindset does. Your communal attitude towards every human tragedy is the problem. Not me, nor my religion! Mr Vijay, I daresay, beef eating shouldn’t be a crime. Mr Vijay, I won’t force you to have beef but I don’t expect you to tacitly justify the killing of someone, allegedly because he consumed beef or because the community he belonged to wasn’t responding to “Hindu woes”.
(This article was originally published in DailyO.)