Rewriting Riots

Recent riots in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, have again acquired centre stage in the national media and it looks like we Indians have now become accustomed to them. When one opens news channels in India, within seconds one comes to know about the ‘breaking news’, of rape, murder, sexual assault on minors, suicide by farmers, terrorist attacks, exposure of corrupt politicians or deaths due to communal riots. What a shame! Has the Indian community become so indisciplined that it creates social unrest or is the nation as a whole framed by some vested interest groups to gain political mileage? It is anybody’s guess that Indians are always a united, peaceful, composite community despite having different castes, creeds and religions. India is the best country in the world to showcase communal harmony in society. Against this backdrop, one fails to understand, why out of a small incident, such a bloodbath takes place and ultimately that turns into an ugly shape of communal tension. The government definitely has information as to who had spread venom and infused bad blood into the common man. Starting from Mopla riots in Kerala to Shikh riots in Delhi, or in any riots of Uttar Pradesh, one can observe that it is the same set of political elements that are imbued with an unfounded ideology, and taking the help of hooligans they indulge in destroying the very social fabric that had been intact for ages. In all the riots, the culprits are never caught because they had a pre-planned propaganda with a fine-tuned strategy and well-sourced saviours at the government and political levels. And if they are caught, even after years of cracking the whip by the judiciary, nothing happens to them or their family. Because their own concerns are well taken care of by the group or party, for whom they perpetrate the ‘organised crimes’. And the recent attacks in Muzaffarnagar, which claimed 38 lives and rendered thousands homeless, were organised crimes by certain political affiliates, who exploited the situation after a small incident in a small town like Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh. There are many political leaders in UP, who are openly involved in criminal activities, threatening the common masses to oblige them in democratic system. Such leaders are not accountable to law, because they are from a so-called weaker community called minority. ‘Minority’ and ‘poor’, both the words have been very badly misused in Indian democracy by the politicians to achieve their self-goal. But has the economic status of Muslims in UP revived? Have they gained from the political perks? No, certainly not. In fact, not only Muslims, but all sections of society had very high expectations from the youthful Chief Minister they had voted into power. The belief of the people of UP that he would usher in a new era has been shattered by the recent riots in Muzaffarnagar and the adjoining villages. Akhilesh Yadav owes an explanation to the people of UP, that while he took seconds in suspending Durga Shakti Nagpal, he has not taken any action against the officers who failed to control the communal inferno. If the army had not been called in, the deaths would have been manifold.

In India, riots have often been seen as a spontaneous reaction to an event that acted as a trigger, where the rioters are anti-social extremist elements. With villages and communities torn apart over relatively trivial incidents that have been blown out of proportion by political players who can hardly be labeled the ‘usual suspects’, the role of the political actors, the authorities who gain from these riots, and the religious leaders who instigate or refuse to prevent them is usually glossed over. Those who decide on converting a skirmish between members of two different communities into a grand communal event that benefits them, often base their decisions on the proximity of an election. The closer the election, the more there is a likelihood of seeing an increase in the occurrence of riots. This proves that religious violence is not as much about religion as it is about political ambitions and ideologies justified using the garb of religion. When a country is fragmented on the basis of religion, language, belief, and the uneducated masses are manipulated by the political leaders and their groups, we cannot expect to develop. History is proof enough how communal riots have never contributed in any constructive form. When all the energy, focus and attention are diverted to such baseless petty issues, there is no scope for improvement on any front. “United we stand, Divided we fall”. This is not just a saying, but if we imagine Indians working as a whole with no religion, no caste and no state barriers, it would be a utopia on earth. Having an enemy at the borders is acceptable, but when the enemy is within it will corrode the very basis of nationhood. The founding fathers that formed and framed our Nation had some visions for us. One wonders how many political parties in India have sincerely tried to solve the root cause of such conflicts.

Deepak Kumar Rath

Deepak Kumar Rath

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