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  Opinion   Columnists  03 Aug 2023  Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr | Look within, hate now spreading like wildfire

Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr | Look within, hate now spreading like wildfire

The author is a Delhi-based commentator and analyst
Published : Aug 4, 2023, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Aug 4, 2023, 12:05 am IST

Mr Modi can never go to the people on basis of his government’s economic and political achievements.

The violence spreads out of Nuh, into Sona, Palwal and Gurgaon. (PTI Photo)
 The violence spreads out of Nuh, into Sona, Palwal and Gurgaon. (PTI Photo)

The beginnings of the violence seem to follow a classic pattern -- a provocative procession by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad/Bajrang Dal through Nuh, a Muslim-majority area in Haryana’s Mewat region, the reaction of the Muslim crowd, and the retaliation of the Bajrang Dal workers against Muslims. The violence spreads out of Nuh, into Sona, Palwal and Gurgaon. Two home guards die, 70 people are injured, including some policemen, a mosque is torched and a naib imam, or deputy imam, is killed. That the violence has spread is not surprising. Haryana’s BJP government seems to have been caught off guard because it thought that the VHP/Bajrang Dal procession with its provocative intent would pass off peacefully.

There are many underlying assumptions behind the state government’s complacent attitude. One of them is that the Muslims would lie low in the face of provocation in an area where the poorest Muslims with high crime rates live. And it was easy for the Bajrang Dal to retaliate, and target Muslim shops beyond Nuh. The state government refused to take into account that there are communally-sensitive areas and there was a need for additional forces to be in place. More important than the breakdown of law and order, which it would take days and weeks to bring back to normalcy, is the intent of the Hindutva groups to unfurl provocative politics.

The BJP’s dilemma is quite acute. On the one hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asks the party legislators to go to Muslim homes and get a rakhi tied by Muslim women to mark the Rakshabandhan festival, and on the other hand the VHP and the Bajrang Dal are out on the streets to provoke the Muslims. Once the provocation is triggered and the cycle of violence begins, the provocateurs argue that the violence was triggered by the other side. So, some of the media are focusing on why Haryana’s Nuh is the bad place it is, and how dangerous the presence of Tabligh-e-Jamaat working on the ground is, and how illegal Rohingyas are finding shelter in the place. The VHP and Bajrang Dal get off the hook. The reports have not mentioned what was the reason that the VHP/Bajrang Dal procession had to go through Nuh, and what were the slogans that the processionists were using. The reason for the attack on the processionists is being attributed to a false video on a social media platform that Monu Manesar, the person responsible for the lynching of two Muslim youth on suspicion of trading in cows, was going to be present at the procession. In a well-managed situation, the police would have kept both sides on the leash, as it were, but there were no police at hand. It has become a costly miscalculation for the state government.

The anti-Muslim animus of the BJP and its Hindutva ideology affiliates is quite out in the open though it turns out to be an embarrassment for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been playing down the right-wing elements of his party’s ideology in the run-up to the G-20 summit in the first week of September, and he doesn’t want untoward incidents like the ones in Manipur and in Haryana, both involving the minority communities, Christian Kukis in Manipur and Muslims in Haryana. Mr Modi has been quite effective in his manner of promoting Hindutva. He has been doing all the things that send out a signal that the glorious ancient culture and civilisation was Hindu, with barely a nod to the millennium of Muslim dominance in the country. He is sure that his two decisive victories in the parliamentary elections of 2014 and 2019 have pushed to the margins the concept of secularism, which is what the Congress and other Opposition parties are wedded to. He feels that he can push Hindutva ideology without falling back on a direct face-off with the Muslims and Christians. The VHP and Bajrang Dal have upset the Mr Modi’s subtle Hindutva strategy of harping less on Muslims and Christians while implementing the majoritarian ideology.

Subtle or not-so-subtle, direct or indirect, Mr Modi remains a prisoner of Hindutva, and he and his colleagues know too well that their default position is Hindutva, and they owe their victory to Hindutva at the end of the day. Mr Modi can never go to the people on basis of his government’s economic and political achievements. That is why, in his latest monthly radio chat, Mann Ki Baat, he talked about the developments made at the major temple towns of Somnath, Varanasi, Ayodhya and Ujjain, and how tourist footfalls have increased in these places, and they will soon attract foreign visitors as well. So, he has to fall back on what he did for popularisation of Hinduism more than on how his foreign tours have turned India into one of the leading countries in the world.

Friends of the BJP and the supporters of Hindutva want the religious and ideological thrust to be a little slow because they feel that ultimately the victory would be achieved and there is no danger of secularism making a comeback. But the ideological platoons of Hindutva may not settle for such slow progress. They want to make it a loud and forceful affair. The victory has to be declared over the ruins of enemy bastions. A majority of Muslims are willing to make peace with the Hindutva forces, but there will be some pockets of rebellion, such as in Nuh. And Muslims will be made to pay the price.

Is the policy of subduing religious minorities the right thing to do in the long run? The talk of long term is dismissed as unrealistic. What is of importance is of here and now. So, the militancy of the majority community would continue in big and small ways. Railway Police Force constable Chetan Singh killing three Muslim passengers and his boss, a man from a different caste, on the Jaipur-Mumbai express is an example of how Hindu hate crimes will be committed, without hesitation and without apology. And everyone will be still looking for radical Islamic elements who are supposed to be creating trouble, when the real problem is right within the majority community.

Hindutva is turning into a way of nurturing hatred and violence in society, and it will spread like wildfire.

Tags: communal tension, bajrang dal, haryana