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Right and the Not-So-Right of Lynchings and Hatred Wrecking India: Political Culture Defining Brand of Malice

By Tufail Ahmad

03 July 2017

Societies are hostile environments. Ask women who fear to walk alone at night, girls who are sold into prostitution, or children who are sexually assaulted in government-run shelters. Man is evil. In the republic, you can be lynched by a journalist on television, or by a mob in streets and trains. In Coimbatore, Muslim youth H Farook was murdered by a Muslim lynch mob for being an atheist. Soldiers returning in trains can taunt you as a Katuwe (circumcised as a Muslim). If societies were not hostile, we would not be having police to police the evil that resides in the character of humans.

The institution of family is the main conveyor of hatred. If you are born into a Muslim family, you are taught by the Quran to subdue, control and kill the Mushrikeen and Kafirs, idolaters and infidels. If you are a Hindu, the family has pre-decided which caste you belong to. You are a Hindu because you are born into a Hindu family, not because you learned values of Hinduism that seek to serve humanity. The cow is not sacred; it is sacred because you just happened to inherit the sperm of parents who were Hindus. Sperms have religion too. Humanity can go to hell.

In Islam, jihad can only be ordered by the government of a Caliphate. Since the Caliphate doesn't exist, argue the Jihadis, every Muslim can take up arms. Since the ancestors of Muslims ruled over India for nearly a thousand years, the Hindu youth believes, Hindus must take up arms for a Hindu Rashtra. It is not sufficient that Hindus already govern India because they are insufficiently Hindus — like secular Muslims are declared insufficient Muslims by clerics. Ram Madhav dubbed it as "semitisation of culture" — I call it Abrahamic Hindutva. Hindutva, claiming to be body of Sanatan Dharma's pluralistic ethos, was good — but in the past. For now, Hindu scriptures are irrelevant.

Hindu grievances are legitimate. It is true that Islam protects minorities but it does so only when it is in power — when non-Muslims are consigned to second-class status in an Islamic state.

Love jihad is real because in most of Hindu-Muslim marriages, it is the Hindu who converts to Islam; the Muslim youth is a coward who does not convert for the consummation of his love. The hatred of Muslims which drives Hindus is birthed by Islamic clerics and nurtured by theological Hindus. The Supreme Court said Hindutva is a way of life; but it is religion as well, theology too.

In early Islam, a bloody politics to capture power after the Prophet Muhammad's death evolved into theology, dividing Muslims between Sunnis and Shias. In India, culture is transforming into a Hindu theology, or an Abrahamic Hindutva which legitimises the lynching of Muslims for eating beef. On the authority of right-wing Hindu writers, there is sufficient evidence to observe that in the Vedic times, cows were sacrificed both for eating and for performing yajnas. Islamic clerics later fostered the killing of cows in India, especially to taunt Hindu sentiments.

Both positively and negatively, Hindu is a communal identity; Muslim is a communal construct. If you are Hindu or a Muslim, you are not an evolved human being no matter how many Vedas you have memorised, because you do not see yourself as a human. The singular reason you are a Hindu, Muslim or Christian is because your parents were from that community. The newly-minted Hindu loves a certain Yogi because Yogi can taunt Muslims: if they kill one, we will kill a hundred. In Ballabhgarh, Junaid Khan was murdered publicly. Yes, it began as an altercation over a train seat but this is half-a-truth.

The other half-a-truth is this: the hatred of Muslims residing in the hearts of the killers surfaced, and in taunting Junaid they used their religious hate. Abrahamic Hindutva, Hinduism influenced by jihadism of Islam, denotes a growing inability of Hindu youths to comprehend their Hindu identity as sufficient in itself - without a reference to Islam and Christianity. We are witnessing a closing of the Hindu mind which is increasingly unable to defend ideals. The Hindu youth publicly declares that so long as Islamofascism exists, they will resort to Abrahamic Hindutva. This youth views the Constitution of India as an obstacle.

The Muslims who reportedly celebrated Pakistan's victory in parts of Uttar Pradesh when India lost in the Champions Trophy final on 18 June, births the hatred of Muslims which is building up in the Hindu mind, which is otherwise ceasing to think. Akbaruddin Owaisi's alleged "hate speeches" on YouTube are probably being watched by several children and should this please some, these children are also watching the YouTube videos of chief minister Yogi Adityanath. Partitions happen when such cycles of hatred explode. India was not divided in 1947; its division occurred long before that.

Muslim leaders and editors cannot escape scrutiny either. Urdu media such as Roznama Sangam of Patna, Roznama Sahafat and Nai Duniya of New Delhi have in recent years justified jihad, hate towards Hindus and bombings of, yes, mosques. On 26 December 2014, Roznama Urdu Times of Mumbai published a theological article calling for beheading of Muslims leaving Islam in ghar wapsi, the reconversion programme started by Hindus. The Urdu editor, though single, is a lynch mob. By acts of omission and commission, Urdu editors push Muslims into religious orthodoxy, siege mentality and conspiracy theories. Pushed to the wall by Urdu editors and Islamic clerics, Muslims view others as enemies. Hatred is never a one-way process.

Hatred resides in a cyclical universe in which journalists, activists and leaders are partisan. Facts are partisan too. The Hindu activist uses something known on social media as monkey balancing, or whataboutery - "The technique or practice of responding to an accusation or difficult question by making a counter-accusation or raising a different issue", as per the Oxford Living Dictionaries. Lynchings happened even before Narendra Modi became the prime minister, so the lynchings happening now are justified, argue those who are on the Right side of the truth.

In between the lines, there are ifs and buts, rationalisations and justifications on behalf of the lynch mobs. Lynch mobs have religious beliefs, which are murderous in nature. Even the prime minister is consequentially late to author a tweet to condemn acts of murder.

Rajasthan's home minister GC Kataria even justified the lynching of Pehlu Khan by cow vigilantes in Alwar. Those on the Left side of the truth are silent on murders of Hindu activists, notably in Kerala. "Not In My Name" — those who turned out on 28 June in Indian cities to protest lynchings were ridiculed for being biased by those on the Right who are biased and wouldn't protest, or protest only when the protesters belong to their ideological camp. Protests are politics. Tweets are politics too.

Politics is murder. Writers compile statistics of lynchings, as if one was not enough. The media narrative on lynchings and the lynchings are two things: those who write about the former turn attention away from the latter, allowing the Indian State to escape scrutiny for its failure to observe dharma, the duty to use force against mobs. A video comes of a Muslim being forced by Hindu fanatics to shout, Jai Shri Ram. Is the video authentic — is the first question of those on the Right who would lap up any video of Muslims engaging in violence. Political cultures nourish hatred - which political culture you belong to defines your brand of hatred. Most Indians are peaceful, but peace doesn't matter. What is consequential is the lynch mob — and Indian State, ceding space to the lynch mobs.

Tufail Ahmad, a former BBC journalist, is a contributing editor at Firstpost and executive director of the Open Source Institute, New Delhi.