By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
13 January 2022
Like Radical Islam, Radical Hinduism Will Ultimately Devour Its Own Adherents
1. Genocidal calls against Muslims were made at ‘Dharm Sansads’.
2. Muslim women were auctioned online reminiscent of ISIS’ trade in slaves.
3. Such anti-Muslim violence may not be new but the state’s response to it is novel.
4. The price of this Hindu radicalization will ultimately be paid by ordinary Hindus.
Recent events in India should put a serious spotlight on the nature of metamorphosis that Hinduism is undergoing. Anyone concerned with this hallowed philosophical tradition should take notice as to what is happening in their name. What we are witnessing is perhaps unprecedented in the nation’s history. Open call to arms and annihilation of Muslims is being advocated by so called Hindu seers, in full public view and people and clapping at such murderous appeals. The Dharm Sansads being held at various places like Haridwar and Raipur, all have one thing in common: the call to eliminate Muslims or make them into second class citizens. In this country, where someone can be arrested for a joke that he did not make, the organizers of Dharm Sansad roam around freely, spreading their poison to even larger audiences.
Close on the heels of such genocidal meeting, came the news of Muslim women being auctioned through an online site. Much like the ISIS would deal and trade in slaves in the real world, we have a group of young Hindus who want to be part of the same fantasy. The Hindu right wing obsession with Muslim women’s bodies has been on display during various anti-Muslim riots which have periodically occurred within the country. Whether it was Surat, Mumbai or Ahmedabad, Muslim women’s bodies became the site on and through which Hindu male virility had to be proven. Centuries of being called effeminate, first by the Muslims and then by the British, meant that the Hindu male interiorized a deep feeling of insecurity vis a vis the Muslim male. The only way to prove that they were masculine enough was to teach a lesson to Muslim women, often in very macabre fashion.
Feminists have often sought to portray women as somehow very different from men when it comes to perpetrating violence. This romantic notion now needs to be debunked. The online auction of Muslim women was not just the handiwork of men but we know that at least one Hindu woman was also an equal participant. Among those not allowing Muslims to pray in Gurgaon is a huge contingent of Hindu women who act as willing accomplices in this ideological cause. For every Babu Bajrangi, we always had a Maya Kodnani.
It will be facile to understand this anti-Muslim bigotry as the product of the current political dispensation. Its roots lie deep into our polity. There is a tendency to understand this anti-Muslim hatred through what Muslims have done in the political and religious sphere. But Hindu violence should not be reduced every time to some other extraneous factor. This kind of analysis is nothing but a Hindu right-wing narrative which assumes that Hindus are inherently peaceful and tolerant as a community. And hence, if they are indulging in violence and diatribe, it must be the fault of others or they would have been provided into doing so. This ahistorical understanding fails to appreciate Hindu violence against certain castes as well as religions such as Buddhism which became almost obliterated in the land of its birth. Just as Muslim violence needs to be understood on its own ground; Hindu violence also needs to be explained as emanating from its politics and traditions.
While it is important to underline that Hindu violence is not new, it is also important to point out that the state’s response to it is remarkably novel. Muslim victims of violence have hardly got justice whether it was Bhagalpur or the Nellie massacre. But the political culture of the state ensured that such incidents were at least condemned from the highest offices of the state; that there was a semblance of statist ritual through which remorse was communicated.
Today, we have entered a phase in our political history where even such niceties have been dispensed with. Not only are the highest political offices of the country silent, even neutral constitutional functionaries appear to be partisan. After the genocidal calls against Muslims in the Dharma Sansad, it fell upon members of the civil society to point out that the police had the powers to take suo motto notice and take disciplinary action against the offenders. Till now, we have not seen the kind of state action which should have followed what some have rightly termed as the Adharm Sansad. One is sure that there is political pressure working on the case, but then one should also be sure that the sole casualty of such a partisan attitude is only going to be the perception of the state as a neutral agency. Ultimately, it will be the Hindu majority who will suffer if the state continues to run on the whims and fancies of few individuals instead of the rule of law.
It is one of the deepest fantasies of the Hindu right to become like orthodox Muslims. Through what is called strategic emulation, they seek to make Hinduism a carbon copy of semitic religion. The inherent diversity of Hinduism is disliked for this very reason; that it inhibits the creation of a unified political community. Although it is early to say, but it appears that Hindu right is succeeding in its mission. From the wide diversity, in terms of caste, region and religious practices, a certain brand of Hinduism is arising which is levelling all such markers. The increasing participation of lower castes and women seeks to weld this version of Hinduism into a homogenous whole; through the sole strategy of otherising and demonizing Muslims. We have come to a situation where perhaps the Hindu society has reached the cusp of radicalization and only Hindus who think differently can put a stop to it.
The Hindu society must not forget that the prize of Muslim radicalization was paid by Muslims themselves. In the short run, Hindu right wing might otherise Muslims. But in the long run it will be the ordinary Hindus who would pay the prize of this radicalization.
A regular columnist with NewAgeIslam.com, Arshad Alam is a writer and researcher on Islam and Muslims in South Asia.
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